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Most Doctors Don't Follow Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines
Date:10/14/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Only one in five doctors in the United States follows all the recommended colon cancer screening guidelines, a new report finds.

Some 40 percent of doctors follow guidelines for some tests, while the remaining 40 percent don't follow guidelines for any colon cancer screens, the researchers said.

"There's more work to be done to understand how to improve colorectal cancer screening," concluded lead researcher Robin Yabroff, an epidemiologist at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Most doctors also don't adhere to guideline recommendations about when people should start screening and how often they should be screened, she added.

The report is published in the Oct. 14 online edition of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

In the study, the researchers looked at the recommendations for various tests to find colon cancer, including colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, fecal occult blood test (stool-based testing) and double-contrast barium enema.

For the study, Yabroff's team questioned almost 1,300 doctors who participated in a National Cancer Institute survey. The researchers compared the survey answers against expert guidelines for the various screening tests.

They found that while most doctors correctly recommended beginning screening for adults at average risk for colon cancer at age 50, and correctly recommended how often screening was needed, only 19 percent followed the guidelines for the different types of tests they recommended.

Doctors who followed screening guidelines tended to be younger and board-certified, Yabroff's group noted.

In addition, they were more likely to use electronic medical records and take patient preferences into account. They were also likely to be influenced by the clinical evidence behind the screening guidelines, the researchers found.

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