American Academy of Family Physicians, President-Elect Dr. Wanda Filer’s Blog on 80% by 2018
FP Recommendation Key to Boosting Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates
Each year, more than 130,000 U.S. adults are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer deaths. Despite those stark statistics, nearly one-third of adults ages 50 to 75 aren’t getting screened as recommended.
In an American Cancer Society survey of unscreened patients, one of the leading reasons respondents gave for not being screened was that they had not received a screening recommendation from a physician. Family physicians are positioned to make a huge difference in closing this gap because we provide roughly 200 million office visits each year to a vast spectrum of patients.
|A physician discusses care options with a patient. An American Cancer Society patient survey indicates that a physician recommendation can make a big difference in whether or not patients are screened for colorectal cancer.|
So it was no surprise last year when the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) — chaired by family physician Richard Wender, M.D. — sought the AAFP’s support for its 80% by 2018 initiative, which seeks to increase the percentage of adults ages 50 and older who get screened for colorectal cancer to 80 percent by 2018.
It’s been estimated that achieving that goal would prevent more than 200,000 deaths because colorectal cancer can be detected early — when treatment is more likely to be successful — and even prevented through the removal of precancerous polyps.
So where do we stand? The percentage of U.S. adults who have been screened increased from 56 percent in 2002 to 65 percent in 2010. And as the screening rate has risen in recent years, cancer incidence has dropped in this age group.
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