Seeing the Doctor Makes a Difference for Elderly

Older colorectal cancer patients on Medicare who saw their primary care physician more often were less likely to die from colorectal cancer and from other illnesses.

They were almost three times as likely to have been screened and more likely to be diagnosed early.

Researchers analyzed information in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Medicare–linked database for people diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 1994 and 2005 to look for links between primary care and outcomes after diagnosis.

They found that compared to colorectal cancer patients who never saw a primary care doctor or saw one only once, Medicare patients who visited their doctor 5 to 10 times in the 3 to 27 months before diagnosis were

  • 16% less likely to die of colorectal cancer
  • 35% more likely to be diagnosed early
  • 6% less likely to die from any cause
  • 2.6 times more likely to have been screened for colorectal cancer

Family physician Jeanne M. Ferrante, MD, MPH and her colleagues concluded,

Medicare beneficiaries with colorectal cancer have better outcomes if they have greater utilization of primary care before diagnosis. Revitalization of primary care in the United States may help strengthen the national efforts to reduce the burden of CRC.

SOURCE: Ferrante et al,  Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 171 No. 19, October 24, 2011



Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results–Medicare–linked database

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