Doctors May Be Misusing Cancer Guidelines

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 (UPI) — Doctors may both overuse and under use recommended colorectal cancer screening guidelines, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Robin Yabroff of the National Cancer Institute and colleagues say their analysis of a National Cancer Institute survey of 1,266 physicians indicates only one-fifth of U.S. primary care physicians follow practice guidelines for colorectal cancer screening for all the tests they recommend.

The survey analysis, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, indicates another 40 percent of physicians follow guidelines for some of the tests the guidelines recommend and the remaining 40 percent do not follow guidelines for any of the screening tests they recommend.

The researchers conclude many U.S. adults are not receiving appropriate colorectal cancer screening — with overuse resulting in unnecessary patient follow-up testing and increased complications risk. Also, physicians start screening after age 50 or at longer intervals than the guidelines specify. This and other under use may result in fewer pre-invasive cancers being detected, Yabroff says.

“Efforts to improve colorectal cancer screening practice should focus on factors that influence both overuse and underuse of screening and consider all recommended colorectal cancer screening modalities,” Yabroff says in a statement.

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