Few primary care doctors screen for colon cancer

March 20, 2009

Less than half of the eligible patients who frequently visit their primary care physician receive recommended colorectal cancer screenings, according to a recent study.

Less than half of the eligible patients who frequently visit their primary care physician receive recommended colorectal cancer screenings, according to a study by a team of researchers at the University of California-Davis, the University of Washington, and Group Health Cooperative in Seattle.

"It's not yet as high on [the] list as it should be," says Joshua Fenton, MD, a family physician, assistant professor of family and community medicine at UC–Davis, and the study's lead author. "Patients also might not be aware of it, may not be receptive to the doctor's recommendation, or [they] have a hard time getting the test done."

The study, which appears in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, reviewed records of nearly 50,000 men and women aged 50 to 78 who were eligible for colorectal cancer screening in 2002 and 2003. The team discovered that more than half of patients with frequent primary care visits-four or more per year-did not get screened.