Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Many don't get follow-up after colon cancer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Many colon cancer patients aren't getting the screenings recommended after surgery to make sure the disease hasn't returned, new research shows.

Colorectal cancer accounts for 15 percent of cancer deaths.

Only about 40 percent of the 4,426 older patients in the study got all the doctor visits, blood tests and the colonoscopy advised in the three years after cancer surgery, according to the results released Monday by the journal Cancer.

While nearly all made the doctor visits and almost three-quarters got a colonoscopy, many didn't get the blood tests that can signal a return of colon cancer, according to the researchers at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Whether doctors didn't offer the tests or patients failed to get them isn't known, said Dr. Gregory Cooper, who led the study. He said perhaps the follow-up care was being provided by doctors who aren't specialists and who aren't familiar with the guidelines.

"I would probably put most of the blame on the providers," said Cooper, a gastroenterologist at the hospital.

Colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in an estimated 149,000 Americans this year. Survival after five years varies from 90 percent for cancer that hasn't spread to 10 percent for advanced cases.
Cooper and his colleagues used a federal database of cancer cases and Medicare records for patients to see whether the guidelines were being followed. They focused on those 66 and older with less advanced cancer who had surgery that could cure them. Continue Reading >>

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