Last week, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) announced that it no longer recommends one particular screening method for colorectal cancer. While colonoscopy remains the gold standard for detecting precancerous lesions (polyps), other effective screening methods exist, including noninvasive ones.
With the National Institutes of Health estimating 134,000 new diagnoses of colorectal cancers this year and 49,000 deaths from the disease, the task force says the best screening method is the one patients choose to have. In other words, that patients get screened is more important than how they get screened.
The JAMA article concluded:
“Screening for colorectal cancer is a substantially underused preventive health strategy in the United States. In the current recommendation, instead of emphasizing specific screening approaches, the [task force] has instead chosen to highlight that there is convincing evidence that colorectal cancer screening substantially reduces deaths from the disease among adults aged 50 to 75 years and that not enough adults in the United States are using this effective preventive intervention.”
The other screening methods cited by the task force:
- Annual fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
- Annual high-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy testing — similar to a colonoscopy but involving only the lower colon
Colorectal is one type of cancer screening to have received an A-grade recommendation from the USPSTF because of its success in preventing the disease or ensuring earlier diagnoses that lead to improved outcomes. (Cervical cancer is the other type of A-grade screening.)
Experience teaches that screenings are one clinical procedure that benefits enormously from care coordination, especially by decreasing missed appointments and helping patients overcome the fear that is often associated with screening. This is one type of barrier to care that can have serious repercussions.
All of these screenings, including colonoscopy, can be coordinated through the Cordata Oncology suite, which helps drive improved outcomes from screening to survivorship. The specific functions include referral, screening event, education, procedure follow-up, results communication, downstream referrals and care management.
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