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Better Follow-Up Needed After Positive Fecal Blood Tests

Median time to colonoscopy ranged from about six weeks to six months


THURSDAY, Feb. 4, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Characteristics of individuals and health care systems may contribute to the differences in follow-up after a positive fecal blood test, according to research published online Feb. 3 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Jessica Chubak, M.D., of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, and colleagues analyzed data from four health care systems for 62,384 individuals, aged 50 to 89 years, with a positive fecal blood test. The authors sought to examine time to follow-up colonoscopy and to identify factors associated with timing of follow-up.

The researchers found that although rates of follow-up differed significantly across health care systems, most patients who received a follow-up colonoscopy did so within six months of the positive fecal blood test. The median time to follow-up colonoscopy ranged from 41 to 174 days, and rate of follow-up at 12 months ranged from 58.1 to 83.8 percent. Factors associated with lower rates of follow-up included increasing age and higher comorbidity scores.

"These findings suggest that there is room to improve follow-up of positive colorectal cancer screening tests," the authors write.

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