Despite seeing a doctor for primary care or a health maintenance visit and being part of a health insurance program for the previous five years, only 54% of a large group of patients were screened for colorectal cancer.
Researchers at the Henry Ford Medical Group in Detroit identified a group of 21,833 patients, aged 55 to 70, who had at least one primary care visit in 2003 and who had been enrolled for the past 5 years in a health plan. They reviewed records to see how many had been screened for colorectal cancer using recommended schedules for colonoscopy, barium enema, fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), or sigmoidoscopy. They also looked at demographics, income, other health problems, and numbers of health maintenance visits made by individuals in the group.
Over the 5-year period, approximately 54% of people in the group received one of the screening examinations. Most common was colonoscopy (39.9%) with 28.3% receiving flexible sigmoidosopcy, and 4.3% a combination of flexible sigmoidoscopy and FOBT.
Of those who did not receive recommended colorectal screening, 64% had at least 3 health maintenance visits.
More ealth maintenance or other primary care visits increased the likelihood that patients would be screened. Older patients, males, African-Americans, and those with higher incomes were more likely to receive recommended exams.
Over the five years from 1999 through 2003, annual screening rates for the group increased 3.1%.
Jennifer Elston Lafata Ph.D. and her colleagues published the results of their study in the October 1 2005, issue of *Cancer.*
Significant opportunities exist to increase colorectal carcinoma screening among primary care patients.
[Read the study abstract in *Cancer*](http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/28741)