Patients Opt for Less Thorough Tests than Colonoscopy

A recent study has concluded that too many patients are unwilling to get a colonoscopy. More people choose fecal occult blood test over the more invasive screening. Fecal occult blood testing checks if there is an internal bleeding as seen through the feces as a sign of colon cancer.

Although a colonoscopy is considered the "gold standard" for colon cancer screening, a new study finds that many patients are reluctant to have the test. Dr. John Inadomi, a professor and head of the division of gastroenterology of the University of Washington in Seattle, said that the best screening is the one that a lot of people resort to but it does not mean that colonoscopy is not as effective. The difference between the two tests is of the screening frequency.  Fecal occult blood test should be made yearly while colonoscopy is every ten years starting at age 50.

An advantage of colonoscopy is that when there are polyps found, they can be easily removed immediately. For the lesser invasive screening, if the results are positive then a colonoscopy should follow to remove the polyps. The preparation procedures for colonoscopy turn people off from getting the screening.

A report on the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that a study of 998 people was given options to get a colonoscopy or fecal occult blood test. In a year’s time, 58% made a decision which type of screening test they will undergo. 38% had a colonoscopy while 67% opted for the fecal occult blood test screening.

It was also concluded that ethnicity had some hand in the choosing of options. White people tend to choose colonoscopy while the African-Americans had the lowest rate of 48% in getting a colon cancer screening test. Latinos and Asians had the highest percentage of getting the test at 63% and 61% respectively.

Dr. Theodore Levin, a gastroenterologist at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Walnut Creek, California and author, believes that in order to entice people to have colon cancer screening, they need to choose from one or two options. Levin suggested that virtual colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy can be presented as an alternative to patients.

Patients will tend to retract when colonoscopy is out rightly recommended but if they are given other alternatives and that they can consider then the probability of having a colon cancer screening is imminent. Virtual colonoscopy is one colon cancer screening option that should not be overlooked.