Could patient education improve colorectal cancer screening rates?

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., but a lack of education and invasive procedures keep screening numbers down.

Scientists from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta found improved patient education on the low radiation risk of computed tomographic colonography (CTC) or creation of a non-invasive imaging test without a cleanse may boost rates of colorectal cancer screening.

The study was published online Feb. 21 in Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology.

Patients completed a total of 239 surveys at the Seavey Clinic, part of Emory Healthcare, asking questions designed to gauge knowledge about colorectal cancer incidence and prognosis.

Below are some noteworthy findings from the survey:

  • 99 percent of those surveyed believed colorectal cancer screening is a good idea.
  • Most respondents (55 percent) were aware of general information about colorectal cancer incidence and survival rates.
  • 73 percent of people were willing to undergo colonoscopy.
  • 48 percent were willing to undergo stool-based tests.
  • 40 percent of respondents reported a willingness to undergo CTC.
  • A large majority (86 percent) said they would be more willing to undergo a CTC if the test didn’t involve radiation.
  • 73 percent would undergo screening if a pre-procedural bowel cleansing regimen was not involved.
  • 60 percent of respondents would seek screening if it did not involve sedation.

While an estimated 236,000 to 550,000 cases were prevented by screening over the past 30 years in the U.S., rates still lag behind those of breast and cervical cancer.

“We believe that these results indicate an opportunity to improve colorectal cancer screening rates as nearly all respondents reported believing that colorectal cancer screening is a good idea,” wrote corresponding author Courtney C. Moreno, MD, with the department of radiology and imaging services at Emory University School of Medicine, and colleagues.