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Healthy Seniors Likely to Forgo Colorectal Screening

Screening rates are only slightly higher in veterans with high versus low life expectancies

TUESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Among older veterans, colorectal cancer screening rates are low among those without comorbidities, suggesting that many healthy older patients with substantial life expectancies are not being screened, according to study findings published in the April 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Louise C. Walter, M.D., of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco, and colleagues studied 27,068 veterans aged 70 and older who visited a medical center in 2001 or 2002 and were due for colorectal cancer screening.

Among patients with no comorbidities, the researchers found that only 47 percent were screened, even though their life expectancy was greater than five years. Although the incidence of screening declined with increasing age and worsening comorbidity, they found that the screening rate was almost as high (41 percent) in patients with severe morbidity who had a life expectancy of less than five years.

"More attention to comorbidity is needed to better target screening to older patients with substantial life expectancies and avoid screening older patients with limited life expectancies," the authors conclude.

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