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Recent studies confirm significant underuse of colorectal cancer screening
Date:12/17/2007

nce the cancer has spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes, the five-year relative survival rate decreases dramatically.

ASGE screening guidelines recommend that, beginning at age 50, asymptomatic men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should begin colorectal cancer screening. People with risk factors, such as a family history of colorectal cancer, should begin at an earlier age. Patients are advised to discuss their risk factors with their physician to determine when to begin routine colorectal cancer screening and how often they should be screened. Colonoscopy is a procedure which looks at the entire colon and plays a very important role in colorectal cancer prevention because it is the only method that is both diagnostic and therapeutic. Not only does colonoscopy view the entire colon, but it also removes polyps before they turn into cancer.

The Cancer study, published online December 10, looked at 153,469 cancer-free Medicare beneficiaries beginning in 1998, the first year Medicare began coverage for colorectal cancer screening. The beneficiaries included 17,940 patients with one or more risk factors for cancer and 135,529 average risk patients. Between 1998 and 2004, only 25.4 percent of patients were screened for colorectal cancer, this is down from 29.2 percent from 1991 to 1997, before Medicare coverage of colorectal cancer screening began. Researchers identified claims for various colorectal cancer screening methods including fecal occult blood test (FOBT), flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and barium enema.

Recently released figures from The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality show that in 2005 only half of all Americans age 50 and over have had a screening colonoscopy. Nearly 67 percent of Hispanics age 50 and older reported never having had a colonoscopy screening, compared to 47.1 percent of Caucasians and 55.8 percent of African Americans. Age was found to be an issue in the study. Among tho
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Contact: Anne Brownsey
abrownsey@asge.org
630-570-5635
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
Source:Eurekalert

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