The influence of a health care provider on patient behavior is well established. Evidence accumulated over the course of 20 years shows that a recommendation from a doctor is the most powerful factor in a patient’s decision to get screened.1
Talk With Your Patients and Staff About Screening
If you have patients who are approaching the age of 45 or who are older than 45, you and your colleagues should take the opportunity to talk to them about colorectal cancer and the importance of screening.2
Key points to discuss include:
- How often they should be screened and which colorectal cancer screening test you recommend
- Colonoscopies to screen for colorectal cancer are recommended when patients reach the age of 45 and then repeated once every 10 years until age 75. Based on prior screening history and health status, screening can be recommended on an individualized basis up to the age of 852,3
- Some patients should be screened before the age of 45-50 and more frequently—for example, those who have had polyps or have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps4
- Regular screening is endorsed by the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Cancer Institute2-5
- In the early stages of colorectal cancer, there may be no symptoms to warn a patient that he or she has cancer—they could have colorectal cancer and not even know it3
Your Recommendation for Colorectal Cancer Screening Can Save Lives
Increasing screening rates to 80% by 2018 would prevent 277,000 new cases of colon cancer and 203,000 deaths within 20 years.6 Reaching that screening rate is a primary goal of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT), a national coalition of public, private, and voluntary organizations.6
NCCRT Goal: 80% Screened by 2018
- How to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates in Practice. A Primary Care Clinician's* Toolbox and Guide 2008. Sarfaty M. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ede8/a22cfa1102afd3f28e8a5ea9c04e58938a1c.pdf. Accessed January 28, 2019.
- Wolf AM, Fontham ET, Church TR, et al. Colorectal cancer screening for average-risk adults: 2018 guideline update from the American Cancer Society. CA Cancer J Clin. 2018;68(4):250-281.
- American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2019. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society Pub. No. 500819. https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2019/cancer-facts-and-figures-2019.pdf. Accessed January 28, 2019.
- Basic information about colorectal cancer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/index.htm. Accessed January 28, 2019.
- Colorectal cancer screening. National Cancer Institute website. https://www.cancer.gov/types/colorectal/hp/colorectal-screening-pdq. Accessed January 28, 2019.
- Achieving 80% by 2018 screening goal could prevent 200,000 colon cancer deaths in less than 2 decades. American Cancer Society website. https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/impact-of-achieving-80-by-2018-screening-goal.html. Accessed January 28, 2019.