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Colorectal CancerColorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States and the third leading cause of death among Americans (both men and women). Reports suggest that an estimated 135,000 new cases of CRC will be diagnosed and nearly 50,000 deaths due to this disease will occur in the United States in 2015. The potential risk factors associated with this condition include age, genetics and lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking, obesity and alcohol use. CRC, which develops in the colon or the rectum, is a curable disease that often goes undiagnosed due to lack of regular screening. Regular screening helps in the detection and removal of pre-cancerous growths at an early stage, when treatment is most effective. Oncology physicians must educate their patients about the various risk factors associated with this disease and recommend effective treatment modalities. There are different treatment options for this condition and the primary ones include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted drug therapy. Oncologists administering different treatment procedures for cancer should have up-to-date knowledge about the latest medical billing and coding guidelines / practices. Accurate diagnostic and procedure codes are to be reported on the medical claims submitted to insurers.

Colorectal cancer screening tests such as barium enema, colonoscopy, fecal-occult blood test (FOBT), flexible sigmoidoscopy and multi-target stool DNA test are covered under Medicare Part B. CMS pays 80% of the Medicare-approved amount for barium enemas and 100% for the rest of the above mentioned tests. There is no Part B deductible in any case. For sigmoidoscopies and colonoscopies performed in non-Outpatient Prospective Payment System hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers, coinsurance is applicable.

Caffeinated Coffee Intake May Reduce Cancer Reoccurrence

A new study found that regular caffeinated coffee intake may significantly help in reduced cancer reoccurrence and improved survival in patients with stage 3 colon cancer. The study was conducted by researchers from Boston-based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. It was found that the greatest benefit came from consuming four or more cups of coffee (about 460 milligrams of caffeine) a day.

Earlier, various studies were conducted to investigate the potential effects that coffee consumption had on the body. It is estimated that on an average, Americans consume around 3-4 cups of coffee a day, with 54% of people above the age of 18 years consuming this drink every single day. While coffee consumption is linked to certain medical conditions, it was found to be effective in reducing the reoccurrence of cancer.

As part of the study, nearly 1000 patients (with stage 3 colon cancer) were studied. The participants were asked to fill out dietary pattern questionnaires early at the beginning of the study (during chemotherapy) and again about a year later. Researchers aimed to evaluate the potential influence of coffee, non herbal tea and caffeine on cancer reoccurrence and mortality. The main findings of the study are as follows:

  • Coffee drinkers reported a lower risk of cancer reoccurrence and greater chances of survival and cure. Most cases of reoccurrences may happen within 5 years of treatment and are quite uncommon after that.
  • It was found that patients who consume four or more cups of coffee per day were 42% less likely to have their disease reoccur than other patients who do not consume this beverage at all. Those who drank four or more cups of coffee were 33% less likely to die from this disease or any other cause during the follow-up period.

The findings of the study signify that the lower risks of recurrence and death were specifically related to caffeine in coffee rather than other coffee components. Caffeine consumption increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin. This means that less insulin is required by the body thereby reducing inflammation – a risk factor for both cancer and diabetes. Further, researchers suggest that apart from coffee consumption, patients can follow other measures such as regular exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight and following a balanced diet to reduce colon cancer risks in the near future.