Study shows that primary care doctors miss opportunities to recommend colon cancer screening

Feb 03, 2009

While it is known that patients with few primary care doctor's office visits are less likely to receive colorectal cancer screening, new research indicates that even patients who see their physicians regularly also do not receive screening.

The study, which appears in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, was conducted by a team of researchers at UC Davis, the University of Washington and Group Health Cooperative in Seattle.

"Colorectal cancer screening is not on the primary care agenda as much as it should be," said lead author Joshua Fenton, assistant professor of family and community medicine at UC Davis. "Opportunities are being missed."

Fenton and his colleagues reviewed records of nearly 50,000 men and women aged 50 to 78 who were eligible for colorectal cancer screening in 2002 and 2003 and enrolled in Group Health Cooperative — a large, prepaid, nonprofit health plan that coordinates care and coverage in Washington state.

Most screening tests are ordered by primary care physicians, so the investigators were not surprised to find that patients with very few primary doctor's office visits received little or no colorectal cancer screening. The team was more surprised, however, to discover that more than half of patients with frequent primary care visits — four or more per year — also did not get screened.

"Merely encouraging people to see their doctors won't increase screening," said Fenton. "Screening saves lives. We have to do more to make sure that eligible patients are identified during primary care visits and counseled about options."

The study authors advocate a number of tested ways to increase the likelihood that colorectal cancer screening is recommended in primary care settings, including educational programs for patients and doctors, reminder systems, financial incentives and doctor's office visits dedicated to preventive care.

Fenton explained that the history of breast cancer screening, which also used to be underutilized, can serve as a model for colorectal cancer screening.

"Today, women know to ask for breast cancer screening and doctors are accustomed to recommending it. It's become part of standard practice. Hopefully, we'll also get to that point with colorectal cancer screening. It's more common throughout the nation than it was 10 years ago, but we've still got a long way to go," he said.

Source: University of California - Davis

Explore further: Is genetic instability the key to beating cancer?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Functional genomics gets tiny

May 17, 2012

A little more than a decade ago, researchers discovered an ancient mechanism that cells use to silence genes. Like a dimmer switch turning down a light, RNA interference (RNAi) dials down gene activity in ...

Most recent mammography recommendations confuse public

Apr 06, 2011

When the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent panel of experts in primary care and prevention, released its recommendations on mammography screenings for US women on November 16, 2009, there was immediate ...

Recommended for you

New breast cancer imaging method promising

57 minutes ago

The new PAMmography method for imaging breast cancer developed by the University of Twente's MIRA research institute and the Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital appears to be a promising new method that could ...

Palliation is rarely a topic in studies on advanced cancer

1 hour ago

End-of-life aspects, the corresponding terminology, and the relevance of palliation in advanced cancer are often not considered in publications on randomized controlled trials (RCTs). This is the result of an analysis by ...

Breast cancer replicates brain development process

1 hour ago

New research led by a scientist at the University of York reveals that a process that forms a key element in the development of the nervous system may also play a pivotal role in the spread of breast cancer.

Is genetic instability the key to beating cancer?

3 hours ago

Cancerous tumors may be poised at the edge of their own destruction, an insight that could help researchers find new, more effective treatments, suggest SFI External Professor Ricard Solé and colleagues in an April 9 paper ...

Phase 3 study may be game-changer for acute myeloid leukemia

7 hours ago

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers say clinical trials for a new experimental drug to treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are very promising. Patients treated with CPX-351, a combination of the chemotherapeutic drugs cytarabine ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

New breast cancer imaging method promising

The new PAMmography method for imaging breast cancer developed by the University of Twente's MIRA research institute and the Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital appears to be a promising new method that could ...

Breast cancer replicates brain development process

New research led by a scientist at the University of York reveals that a process that forms a key element in the development of the nervous system may also play a pivotal role in the spread of breast cancer.

Research proves nanobubbles are superstable

The intense research interest in surface nanobubbles arises from their potential applications in microfluidics and the scientific challenge for controlling their fundamental physical properties. One of the ...

Using antineutrinos to monitor nuclear reactors

When monitoring nuclear reactors, the International Atomic Energy Agency has to rely on input given by the operators. In the future, antineutrino detectors may provide an additional option for monitoring. ...