Even when diagnosed with a condition that is a strong genetic predictor of colorectal cancer, many patients do not seek out genetic counseling or cancer screening. According to a recent study in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, counseling and screening rates could be improved if physicians provided stronger encouragement and more complete information about the benefits of screening to their patients.
“We studied families with a history of familial adenomatous polyposis, a condition that very often leads to colorectal cancer,” says study author Dr. Anita Kinney. “Unfortunately, only about half of those diagnosed with the condition had been tested for cancer recently, and even fewer of their at-risk relatives had been screened.”
According to Kinney, the strongest predictors of whether or not these patients seek out testing or counseling was their understanding of the benefits of screening, and their physician’s recommendation to do so.
Even though the benefits of early detection in preventing cancer death are well known, this information is not necessarily reaching patients. According to Kinney, “education and other intervention efforts, directed at both members of at-risk families and physicians, are needed to enhance the use of cancer surveillance programs appropriate for the disease and level of risk.”
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