March is observed as “National Colorectal Cancer (CRC) Awareness Month” in the United States with the objective to spread awareness about colorectal cancer and the importance of early detection. Sponsored by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance (CCA), the campaign aims to remember the lives of those family members and friends who have been lost to this terrible disease. It aims to extend support to those brave individuals battling colon cancer and encourage them to always keep up the fight. Colorectal cancer (also called colon/rectal/bowel cancer) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women combined in the United States. According to reports from the American Cancer Society, more than 140,000 cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2020. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 people can be cured if the disease is detected at an early stage. This type of cancer may be benign, or non-cancerous, or malignant. A malignant cancer can spread to other parts of the body and damage them. Symptoms and treatment modalities for CRC depend on the causes and severity of the condition and may generally comprise chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. Oncologists or other specialists treating CRC patients can rely on outsourced medical billing companies to meet their medical billing and coding requirements.
The condition, in most cases can affect people at any specific age. Colon cancer usually begins as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called polyps that form on the inside of the colon – the final part of the digestive tract. Over time, some of these polyps can become cancerous. The exact cause of colon cancer is not known. In general, colon cancer begins when healthy cells in the colon develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. Common symptoms associated with the condition are – changes in bowel habits, diarrhea or constipation, blood coming from the rectum, pain and bloating in the abdomen, unexplained weight loss, a feeling of fullness in the abdomen (even after not eating for a while), and fatigue or tiredness. The type and severity of symptoms may vary from one person to another and the stage of cancer. Potential risk factors associated with this disease include family history or genetic factors, age, lifestyle-related factors such as smoking, diet, physical inactivity, obesity or alcohol use.
Generally, colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable types of cancer. The 2020 CRC campaign aims to spread millions of preventable deaths each year through education and raising awareness to take necessary steps to undergo regular screening to detect the cancer at early stages. The condition does not always show symptoms in its early stages, often resulting in diagnoses at advanced or more aggressive stages. Screening for CRC can help with early detection, when treatment is more effective, and it can even prevent the development of cancer by removing polyps in the colon before they become cancerous. It is estimated that 60 percent of deaths related to colorectal cancer could have been prevented with early detection. Different types of screening tests like – colonoscopy, CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy), sigmoidoscopy, fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and stool DNA test can help detect the disease early. Medicare provides coverage for colorectal cancer screening using multi target’s DNA test, to all patients who come in the age group of 50-85 years, who are asymptomatic, and at an average risk of developing CRC.
Oncology specialists while dealing with patients suffering from colon cancer, must correctly document the symptoms, screening tests and other treatment procedures performed using the correct diagnosis codes. Medical billing and coding services offered by reputable billing and coding companies can help in timely claim submissions for accurate reimbursement. ICD-10 codes for diagnosing colon cancer include –
C18 – Malignant neoplasm of colon
- C18.0 – Malignant neoplasm of cecum
- C18.1 – Malignant neoplasm of appendix
- C18.2 – Malignant neoplasm of ascending colon
- C18.3 – Malignant neoplasm of hepatic flexure
- C18.4 – Malignant neoplasm of transverse colon
- C18.5 – Malignant neoplasm of splenic flexure
- C18.6 – Malignant neoplasm of descending colon
- C18.7 – Malignant neoplasm of sigmoid colon
- C18.8 – Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of colon
- C18.9 – Malignant neoplasm of colon, unspecified
C20 – Malignant neoplasm of rectum
C21 – Malignant neoplasm of anus and anal canal
- C21.0 – Malignant neoplasm of anus, unspecified
- C21.1 – Malignant neoplasm of anal canal
- C21.2 – Malignant neoplasm of cloacogenic zone
- C21.8 – Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of rectum, anus and anal canal
The 2020 Colorectal Cancer Awareness campaign aims to support those people touched by colorectal cancer and to spread the message that it is – Preventable, Treatable, and Beatable! The campaign aims to recognize the community of individuals consisting medical researchers and staff and public health professionals who work tirelessly throughout the country to ensure that people are informed, diagnosed, and treated promptly.
The month of March was first officially designated as “National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month” in the year 2000 (by the then US President Clinton). Since 2000, the event has become a rallying point for the colon cancer community consisting of patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates to generate awareness about colon cancer by wearing blue, holding fundraising and education events, talking to friends and family about early screening and much more.
People can spread the word about the campaign by sharing information about it on several social media platforms and educating their followers by posting interesting facts about the disease and encouraging everyone to get screened early and often. The Colorectal Cancer Alliance (CCA) hosts a series of walks across the United States every year. People can sign up to become a team captain and encourage family and friends to participate in the walk.
Participate in National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Campaign this March. Encourage people to undergo early screening.