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Doctors' Office Outreach Boosts Colon Cancer Screening

Simple methods significantly raise exam rate, study finds

MONDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Simple, personalized outreach in doctors' offices can improve colorectal cancer screening rates, a new study finds.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common kind of cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Most patients don't experience any symptoms until the disease is in an advanced stage, which means that early screening is critical to saving lives.

However, studies show that only 42 percent of Americans have received fecal testing for blood or endoscopy screening for colorectal cancer in the previous five years.

In this study of 1,546 people at risk for colorectal cancer, researchers from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia examined the effectiveness of standard and tailored educational interventions in primary practice settings.

The participants were randomly assigned to: no intervention/control; standard intervention (SI) with mailing of education and screening supplies; tailored intervention (TI) with mailing of education and screening supplies; or tailored intervention plus one-year phone follow-up (TIP).

Two years later, colorectal cancer screening rates were 48 percent in the TIP group, 46 percent in the SI group, 44 percent in the TI group, and 33 percent in the SI group.

"These findings provide support for the use of simple, personalized interventions in primary care practice settings to increase CRC screening use among adult patients who are not up to date with CRC screening guidelines," the study authors concluded.

The study was expected to be published in the Nov. 1 issue of the journal Cancer.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about colorectal cancer screening.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Cancer, news release, Sept. 24, 2007

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