Most US doctors are not using the best methods to screen for colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that even though an in-office test for colorectal cancer using a single stool sample collected during a digital rectal examination misses 95 percent of cancers or polyps it is more widely used than the home tests.
Studying the data from the 2006-2007 National Survey of Primary Care Physicians’ Recommendations and Practices for Cancer Screening conducted by the National Cancer Institute scientists looked to see if there had been improvements since 2000 when a study then showed that doctors were using inappropriate methods to screen for the cancer.
The 2007 study included 1,134 primary care doctors who either performed or ordered FOBT (Fecal Occult Blood Tests) at least once a month. One-fourth of the doctors used the in-office method only. About half (53%) of the doctors used both the home and in-office tests. The standard guaiac-based FOBT was used by 61 percent of the doctors even though the more sensitive guaiac-based test and the fecal immunochemical tests are the best ways to detect the disease.
There was some good news in the study, when a positive FOBT was found most doctors (93 percent) followed up with a colonoscopy, which is the recommended method.
It is recommended that adults over the age of 50 be screened for colorectal cancer. When polyps or early stage cancer is found in the colorectal region treatment can be effective. Once the cancer has advanced it is often fatal. With more than 139,000 new cases in 2006 more than 53,000 people died from the disease.