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Published On: Thu, Nov 26th, 2015

U.S. Сolorectal Сancer Screening Rates Experiment Going Right

Group Health Research Institute, located in Seattle, launched an experiment and sent more than 1000 home stool kits for their patients to test themselves for the signs of the colorectal cancer. It allowed them to boost the screening rate and to reach those patients who had never had a colonoscopy in their whole life.

According to the study leader Beverly B. Green, MD, MPH, a family physician at Group Health and an associate investigator at Group Health Research Institute, it’s a proof that preventive medicine is a best way to remain healthy: “By offering patients of average risk a choice of the stool kit or colonoscopy, we keep narrowing the gap to achieve better colorectal cancer screening rates.” Group Health’s general screening rates exceed the ones of Washington state (72 percent to 59 percent), but the researchers are looking for more ways to boost their results.

Meanwhile, a C5 Coalition (Citywide Colon Cancer Control Coalition) in NYC, partnered with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, has reached its initial goal and managed to increase the colorectal cancer screening rates in New York City for more than 40 percent. The coalition consists of medical societies, hospitals, advocacy and survivor groups, as well as of ambulatory surgery centers and physicians. Thanks to collective efforts, a framework was developed that can be used by other communities to encourage people to perform screening: it includes public education, separate campaigns for different social groups, outreach to health care providers and other projects that allow to increase the level of awareness in the society.

CDC colorectal cancer

CDC colorectal cancer

Steven Itzkowitz, MD, Professor of Medicine/Oncological Sciences at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) and Director of the Gastroenterology Fellowship Training Program of The Dr. Henry D. Janowitz Division of Gastroenterology at The Mount Sinai Hospital, created a report on the current results of the program.

“The increased screening rates from 2003 to 2012 translates to an additional 833,000 New Yorkers who have undergone screening colonoscopy and represents an important public health intervention,” said Dr. Itzkowitz. “By making screening accessible and providing high quality screenings, we can reduce the incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer in men and women.” In 2014, according to the report of coalition, the screening rates in the city finally reached 70 percent. It makes the national goal – to achieve 80 percent by 2018 – more than realistic for at least this part of the country.

There are two main causes of the relatively low screening rates: the negative attitude towards the colonoscopy procedure and the fact that the patients often ignore even the most obvious symptoms (like anal pain or rectal bleeding) because they consider them to be the signs of lighter diseases – hemorrhoids, for example. And if the first problem can be solved by providing people with alternative tests (stool tests, for example), the second problem is much more serious.

“Common hemorrhoid symptoms in someone who has been diagnosed with hemorrhoids in the past can be treated at home,” advises Jason F. Hall, MD, a colon and rectal surgeon at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass. “Any new rectal bleeding or heavy rectal bleeding, especially in someone over age 40, should be evaluated.”

Guest Author: Melissa Burns

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