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Many in U.S. Skip Follow-up Colon Cancer Screening

Survey Shows About One-Third of Americans Aren't Following Guidelines for Repeat Screenings
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

June 24, 2011 -- One in three adults who have been screened for colon cancer fail to follow up with repeat screenings as recommended, according to a new survey.

Researchers found 33% of U.S. adults between the ages of 60 and 70 years old have only been screened once for colon cancer; 31% of adults over age 50 have never been screened at all.

"The survey suggests that people are not being screened at a rate of frequency that reflects adherence to medical guidelines for colon cancer testing," says Andrew Spiegel, CEO of the Colon Cancer Alliance, which co-sponsored the survey with Quest Diagnostics, in a news release. "It is possible that many patients, after being screened once, are lulled into a false sense of security and fail to undergo additional testing."

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. The CDC says 60% of colon cancer deaths could be prevented if people followed guidelines for regular screening.

The American Cancer Society guidelines recommend men and women at average risk for colon cancer begin colon cancer screening at age 50 and repeat screening on a regular basis. Some of the types of recommended screening tests available, and their frequency, include:

  • Colonoscopy: every 10 years
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy or virtual colonoscopy: every five years
  • Fecal occult blood (FOBT) and fecal immunochemical (FIT) tests: annually

 

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