Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates High

Photo: Colon cancer

Colorectal cancer is preventable,
but it remains the second-
leading cause of cancer death
in the United States;
© Ilic

The study used data based on a survey of 1,153 Appalachian men and women aged 50-76. Respondents were given four sets of questions designed to gather information on demographics, the presence of co-mordibities such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and various types of cancer, adherence to colorectal cancer screening guidelines, and barriers to and facilitators of colorectal cancer screening behaviour.

Researchers found a dose-response relationship between the number of morbidities and the prevalence of colon cancer screening in the Appalachian population. Of those who reported two to three morbidities, 61.6 per cent had received a colonoscopy, 65.7 per cent had received a guideline-concordant colorectal screening. For patients with six or more morbidities, the rates rose to 69.6 per cent and 79.6 per cent, respectively.

In contrast, just 50 per cent of those who reported no morbidities had undergone a colonoscopy, and only 56.5 per cent had received any guideline-concordant colorectal screening.

The high screening rates in the multimorbid population were surprising, but it is a strong indication that the efforts to raise awareness about the importance of colonoscopies and other screening methods is working, says Nancy Schoenberg of the UK College of Medicine.

"Over the past 10 years, there has been increasing coverage of the importance of colorectal cancer screening," Schoenberg said. "We are probably at about the same screening rate for colorectal cancer now that we were for cervical cancer and breast cancer several decades ago. We hope that colorectal cancer screening will eventually become as commonplace and routine as Pap tests and mammograms."

The higher screening rates in those with multiple health problems could also be due to more frequent contact with physicians, while residents who are otherwise healthy may not be visiting their physician as frequently, said Steve Fleming, associate professor of epidemiology at the UK College of Public Health.

"Doctors who see these multimorbid patients on a regular basis are more likely to remind patients about receiving regular screenings," Fleming said. "This shows that perhaps some of our outreach efforts should target the folks who are relatively healthy and see no need to visit their physicians regularly.”; Source: University of Kentucky