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Routine Cancer Screening Common in Elderly Aged 75 Up

Recommendation for specific tests by physicians is the largest predictor of screening

TUESDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Many adults aged 75 years or older routinely undergo cancer screening, according to a study published in the Dec. 12/26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Keith M. Bellizzi, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the University of Connecticut in Storrs, and colleagues investigated the prevalence and correlates of cancer screening, including physician recommendations, in older, racially diverse adults (aged ≥75 years). National Health Interview Survey data for 1,697 participants aged 75 to 79 years, and 2,376 participants aged 80 years or older were analyzed. Screening behaviors were investigated based on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force screening recommendations for breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancers.

The investigators found that the percentage of adults aged 75 to 79 years screened for colorectal, breast, cervical, and prostate cancer was 57, 62, 53, and 56 percent, respectively. The rates of screening among adults aged 80 years or older varied from a low of 38 percent (cervical cancer) to a high of 50 percent (breast cancer). In unadjusted analyses, screening prevalence rates varied according to race/ethnicity, but on multivariate regression analysis, these differences were accounted for by low education attainment. The largest predictor of screening was a physician's recommendation for a specific test. Among men and women older than 75 years, more than 50 percent reported that their physician continued to recommend screening.

"A high percentage of older adults continue to be screened in the face of ambiguity of recommendations for this group," the authors write.

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