Medicare covers many screening tests that are used to help diagnose cancer, including:

Your first step is to talk with your doctor about your individual cancer risk and any screening tests you may need. Your doctor can let you know if Medicare covers the specific tests recommended.

All women 40 years old and older are covered for one mammogram screening every 12 months under Medicare Part B. If you’re between the ages 35 and 39 and on Medicare, one baseline mammogram is covered.

If your doctor accepts the assignment, these tests will not cost you anything. Accepting the assignment means that your doctor agrees that they will accept the Medicare-approved amount for the test as full payment.

If your doctor determines that your screenings are medically necessary, diagnostic mammograms are covered by Medicare Part B. The Part B deductible applies, and Medicare will pay 80 percent of the approved amount.

With specific guidelines, Medicare covers:

Keep reading for more information on each screening.

Screening colonoscopy

If you’re at high risk for colorectal cancer and have Medicare, you’re covered for a screening colonoscopy once every 24 months.

If you aren’t at high risk for colorectal cancer, the test is covered once every 120 months, or every 10 years.

There’s no minimum age requirement and if your doctor accepts the assignment, these tests will not cost you anything.

Fecal occult blood tests

If you’re 50 years old and older with Medicare, you may be covered for one fecal occult blood test to screen for colorectal cancer every 12 months.

If your doctor accepts the assignment, these tests will not cost you anything.

Multi-target stool DNA lab tests

If you’re 50 to 85 years old and have Medicare, a multi-target stool DNA lab test is covered once every 3 years. You must meet certain conditions including:

  • you’re at average risk for colorectal cancer
  • you don’t have symptoms of colorectal disease

If your doctor accepts the assignment, these tests will not cost you anything.

If you have Medicare, a Pap test and pelvic exam are covered every 24 months by Medicare Part B. A clinical breast exam to check for breast cancer is included as part of the pelvic exam.

You may be covered for a screening test every 12 months if:

  • you’re at high risk for vaginal or cervical cancer
  • you’re of childbearing age and have had an abnormal Pap test in the past 36 months.

If you’re aged 30 to 65, a human papillomavirus (HPV) test is included as part of a Pap test every 5 years, too.

If your doctor accepts the assignment, these tests will not cost you anything.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests and digital rectal exams (DRE) are covered by Medicare Part B once every 12 months in people 50 years of age or older.

If your doctor accepts the assignment, the yearly PSA tests will not cost you anything. For the DRE, the Part B deductible applies, and Medicare will pay 80 percent of the approved amount.

If you’re aged 55 to 77 years old, low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screening is covered by Medicare Part B once every year. You must meet certain conditions, including:

  • you’re asymptomatic (no lung cancer symptoms)
  • you currently smoke tobacco or have quit within the last 15 years.
  • your tobacco use history includes an average of one pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years.

If your doctor accepts the assignment, these tests will not cost you anything.

Medicare covers a number of tests that screen for various types of cancer, including:

  • breast cancer
  • colorectal cancer
  • cervical cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • lung cancer

Talk with your doctor about cancer screening and whether it is recommended based on your medical history or symptoms.

It’s important to understand why your doctor feels these tests are necessary. Ask them about their recommendations and discuss how much the screening will cost and if there are other equally as effective screenings that may be more affordable. It’s also a good idea to ask how long it will take to have your results.

When weighing your options, consider:

  • if the test is covered by Medicare
  • how much you’ll need to pay towards deductibles and copays
  • other insurance you may have such as Medigap (Medicare supplement insurance)
  • if your doctor accepts assignment
  • the type of facility where the test takes place

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