Colorectal cancer killed 51,651 people in the United States in 2014, despite this type of cancer being almost completely preventable and, if diagnosed in early stages, highly treatable. Colorectal cancer screening is recommended for all people 50-75 years of age at specified intervals depending on the type of screening used, as well as the screening results. However, only 58.2% of people in the United States had received appropriate screening based on their age, past screening participation, and the results of past screenings in 2013. Although patients have many barriers pertaining to uptake of colorectal cancer screening, most often cited is lack of knowledge and lack of provider recommendation. Population-based interventions are cost-effective ways of increasing the knowledge of the general public. Offering colorectal screening methods other than colonoscopy increases colorectal screening recommendation adherence. Despite these interventions, the importance of the patient-provider discussion is widely cited in the literature as a critical factor in decreasing barriers to screening and providing individualized screening recommendations with a high probability of uptake. Multiple missed opportunities exist every day within established primary care practices, and can be captured with provider-initiated discussion of colorectal cancer screening recommendations at every primary care patient encounter.
Heather L Schmidtknecht