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News Note: Not all doctors comply with practice guidelines for recommending colorectal cancer screenings

Posted Oct 13 2010 9:00pm
News Note: Not all doctors comply with practice guidelines for recommending colorectal cancer screenings

A study of nearly 1,300 primary care physicians in the United States found that only about 20 percent of those doctors recommend colorectal cancer (CRC) screenings tests to their patients in accordance with current practice guidelines. About 40 percent of the doctors followed some of the practice guidelines, while the remaining 40 percent never followed the practice guidelines. NCI investigator Robin Yabroff, Ph.D., said survey results suggest that by not using practice guidelines, many physicians either overuse or underuse screening tests. The underuse of CRC screenings may result in fewer earlier stage or pre-invasive cancers being detected, while overuse of screening results in expensive, unnecessary screenings and puts patients at risk for certain types of screening-related complications. The study results appeared Oct.14, 2010, in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Guidelines for CRC screening have been developed by multiple organizations, including the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a group of experts convened by the U.S. Public Health Service. The guidelines recommend screening for CRC using high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing, flexible sigmoidoscopy, double-contrast barium enema, or colonoscopy. Initiating screening at age 50 is recommended for all modalities although the time between screenings varies by modality. Having multiple modalities available for screening allows physicians and patients to consider the risks, benefits and other attributes of CRC screening tests and to ultimately identify the option best suited to the patient.  However, multiple screening modalities may also contribute to confusion about their appropriate use by physicians and patients.

 

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