Patients Not Keeping Up with FOBT Screening

Once is not enough for FOBT!

Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)  is an effective colorectal cancer screening method, but it needs to be repeated every one or two years to reduce the risk of dying from colon or rectal cancer.

But almost half of a group of insured patients initially screened with fecal occult blood testing didn’t follow-up with another FOBT within two years, as recommended.

A large insurance health plan found 11,000 people who had been screened with FOBT during a 2 year period.  They then looked to see if they’d had another FOBT or other colorectal cancer screening exam within the following two years.  Nearly a half (46.8 percent) didn’t.

Having gone to the doctor for a preventive health checkup rather than for treatment of an illness made a difference.  Those people who had a preventive health visit during the 2 years following their first  FOBT were 11 times more likely to have had a followup test.

Joshua Fenton, MD,MPH and his team concluded,

Longitudinal adherence with FOBT screening was low in this insured population, potentially compromising its effectiveness in population CRC mortality reduction. Interventions to promote adherence may be necessary to achieve high effectiveness in population-based FOBT screening programs.

SOURCE: Fenton et al., Annals of Family Medicine, Volume 8, Number 5, September/October 2010.

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