The information contained in this website is not a substitute for medical consultation. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.
Q: What if I don’t have insurance?
A: If you don’t have insurance, your county CEED agency may be able to provide certain screenings (for people with incomes under 250% of the federal poverty line); you can also visit a Federally Qualified Health Center for income-based sliding scale services.
For lung cancer screening in particular, ScreenNJ partners may be able to offer no-cost screenings to patients who are not insured but meet screening criteria.
Q: How can I sign up for insurance?
A: Eligible families can apply for NJ FamilyCare, New Jersey’s publicly funded health insurance program which includes CHIP, Medicaid, and Medicaid expansion populations. NJ FamilyCare is not a welfare program, but rather the State of New Jersey’s way of providing affordable health coverage for kids and certain low-income parents. More information about the NJ FamilyCare program can be found here.
If you are ineligible for NJ FamilyCare, you can visit www.healthcare.gov for more plan options.
Q: If I do have insurance, does it cover screenings?
A: Most insurance plans and Medicare help pay for colorectal cancer screening for people who are 50 years old or older, but your insurance may cover you earlier if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or are diagnosed with an inflamatory table bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Colorectal cancer screening tests may be covered by your health insurance policy without a deductible or co-pay.
Lung cancer screenings are typically covered by private insurance plans for people who: are between the ages of 55-77, have a 30 pack-year history of smoking (which means 1 pack a day for 30 years, 2 packs a day for 15 years, etc.), and are a current smoker, or have quit within the last 15 years. With Medicare you are eligible for initial lung screening coverage if you: are between the ages of 55-80, have a 30 pack-year history of smoking (which means 1 pack a day for 30 years, 2 packs a day for 15 years, etc.), are a current smoker or have quit within the last 15 years, and have no current signs or symptoms of lung cancer.
Q: How should I talk to my doctor about getting screened?
A: When you visit your doctor, it’s best to be prepared with some background information before your appointment. If you want to get screened for cancer because of a family history, it helps to write down which other members of your family have been diagnosed with cancer, the types of cancer, how each person is related to you and how old each person was when diagnosed. If you want to talk about screening because you are experiencing possible symptoms, write down any symptoms you’re experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment. Make sure to include personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes, no matter how slight they may seem to you.
For lung cancer, discuss with your doctor if you fall into the categories of people that the US Preventive Task Force recommends yearly lung screening for.
If your doctor recommends a test, it’s important that you discuss the specifics of the test with your doctor or other health care provider. Different screening tests have potential benefits and harms, some of which may include benefits of finding a treatable cancer early, or the harms related to false test results, overdiagnosis, and overtreatment. Make sure to ask your doctor any questions you have about the pros and cons of each possible screening option during your appointment and ask for additional reading materials if they are available. After you understand the benefits and harms of a screening, you can decide whether or not you want to have the screening test based on what is best for you.
Q: Where can I get screened?
A: Through our partnerships with various healthcare clinics ScreenNJ partners provide screening services at locations throughout New Jersey. Check out our page on Where to Get Screened for more specific information about screening locations.
Q: Does a screening test diagnose cancer?
A: Screening tests usually do not diagnose cancer on their own. If a screening test result is abnormal, more tests, called diagnostic tests, may be done to check for cancer. Diagnostic tests may include laboratory tests, like urine or blood tests; imaging tests, like x-rays, ultrasounds, or MRIs; or biopsies, where the doctor will collect a small sample of the tissue to examine. Colonoscopies are the only cancer screening test that, by removing pre-cancerous polyps, can actually prevent you from developing colorectal cancer.
Q: How do you get screened for lung cancer? Is it invasive or painful?
A: Screening for lung cancer is done with a low-dose CT scan that typically takes less than 60 seconds to complete. During the procedure the patient will be asked to hold their breath for a few seconds off and on while the CT machine performs the scan. For more information and a picture of the CT machine please view our low-dose CT scan page here.
Q: What are the screening options for colorectal cancer? Are they invasive or painful?
A: There are several different types of screening for colorectal cancer, all with different levels of invasiveness, and you should talk to your doctor about which screening is right for you based on your lifestyle and concerns.
For the more involved screenings, like colonoscopies, you will be sedated for the procedure. Afterwards you may have slight discomfort, and due to the medications used for sedation you will not be able to drive yourself home following the procedure.
For more details, please view our types of screening for colorectal cancer page.