According to the United States Preventive Services Task Force, it’s “the one that gets done.” That’s because the method that leads to screening for the most people is likely to achieve the greatest reduction in cancer deaths.

The Alliance recently produced an Employer Briefing on Colorectal Cancer Screening, which includes benefit strategy considerations. The briefing includes this chart that compares costs for colorectal cancer screening methods.

Test Interval Per Screening Procedure Cost to Employer*+ Total Estimated Screening Cost,
Age 50 – 75#
Colonoscopy Every 10 years $2,300 – $5,100 Medium Anticipated Cost
FIT Every year $130 – $530! Low Anticipated Cost
FOBT Every year $40 – $410! Low Anticipated Cost
Sigmoidoscopy Every 10 years plus FIT every year $1580 – $1620 High Anticipated Cost
CT Colonography Every 5 years $1,330 Low Anticipated Cost
Fecal DNA Testing Every 3 years $550 Low Anticipated Cost

*Screening should require $0 patient out-of-pocket costs but the amount your employer is charged by the hospital will vary based on type of test and location of service. Your employer pays for your health care benefits directly rather than paying for insurance.
+Cost Per Screening encompasses a median of all typical charges rendered the same day as the screening.
!The costs of the individual services for FIT and FOBT tests are typically very small ($15 – $50); however, it is typical this test is done in conjunction with other services done the same day. We show the estimated cost range based on provider billing and service practices for the entire day of service.
#Modeled results of total estimated screening cost full methodology available here.

Test CPT Codes Used for Screening
Colonoscopy 45378
FIT 82274
FOBT 82770
Sigmoidoscopy 45330
CT Colonography 74261-74263
Fecal DNA Test 81528

It is worth noting that costs for colorectal cancer screening can vary considerably by provider within The Alliance network. For example, the cost of a colonoscopy without biopsy varied from $1,750 to $4,780 as of March 2016.

This variation provides an opportunity for employers to guide employees and family members to specific colonoscopy providers on the basis of cost, or to encourage the use of Find a Doctor to check the cost before scheduling a colonoscopy or another form of colorectal cancer screening.