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Few Patients Seek Screening for Colorectal Cancer

Even after national screening recommendations, Canadian study shows disease is seldom discussed with physicians

MONDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer than 15 percent of Canadians with average risk of colorectal cancer are up-to-date with screenings for the disease, despite recent national guidelines recommending screening, according to the results of a population-based random telephone survey published in the August issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

S. Elizabeth McGregor, Ph.D., of the Alberta Cancer Board in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and colleagues surveyed 1,808 men and women between the ages of 50 and 74. Of these, 1,476 were determined to be at average risk for colorectal cancer. Virtually all were aware of the disease but only 20.2 percent had discussed it with a physician within the past five years.

Awareness of endoscopic screening was fairly high while awareness of the home fecal occult blood test was low. Men were 2.7 times more likely to have been screened recently for prostate cancer than they were to be up-to-date on screening for colorectal cancer, while women were 2.4 times more likely to have been recently screened for breast and cervical cancer. Physician recommendation for screening was found to be a more reliable predictor of screening uptake than changes of bowel habits, including bleeding.

"Whether colorectal cancer screening takes place according to a medical practice model or a public health model, we need to systematically evaluate interventions to increase screening adherence, identify predictors of screening uptake, and identify the reasons for non-adherence," concludes an accompanying editorial.

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