From the AGA Journals

Patient CRC screening preferences don’t match what they’re being offered



Patients said they’d prefer fecal immunochemical test (FIT)–fecal DNA tests over any of the other colorectal cancer screening (CRC) modalities currently recommended by the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force, according to a study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Just over a third of American adults aged 40 and older who hadn’t yet been screened for CRC preferred the FIT–fecal DNA test every 3 years, whereas just one in seven respondents preferred a colonoscopy – considered the gold standard in colorectal cancer screening – every 10 years.

"When you talk to patients and to your friends and family members, people tend to think colonoscopy is synonymous with colon cancer screening, but we have lots of different tests,” senior author Christopher V. Almario, MD, MSHPM, of the department of medicine at the Karsh division of gastroenterology and hepatology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, said in an interview.

“Most people in general tend to prefer noninvasive stool tests, and when we try to predict who would prefer what, we actually couldn’t, so this is a very personal decision,” Dr. Almario said. “It’s important for clinicians to offer multiple choices to their patients, not to mention just colonoscopy. We have data from observing clinician-patient interactions showing that, a lot of times, colonoscopy is the only test that’s offered, despite there being multiple options.”

At the very least, Dr. Almario said, providers should offer patients a colonoscopy along with a noninvasive test, particularly a stool test, and discuss the two options, getting the patient’s input in terms of what they prefer. “The best test is the test that actually gets done,” he said.

Offering patients options

Reid M. Ness, MD, MPH, an associate professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, was not involved with the study but wasn’t surprised at the findings since “most people wisely prefer to avoid invasive procedures,” he said in an interview. He agreed that many patients aren’t necessarily informed of all their options for screening.

“Many people who are now being offered colonoscopy as their only screening option may prefer a noninvasive option, such as FIT or multitarget stool DNA testing,” Dr. Ness said. “Also, people now refusing colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening may instead accept FIT or multitarget stool DNA testing. It is difficult to know how many people now refusing colorectal cancer screening may have accepted screening if it had been offered differently.”

That’s precisely what Dr. Almario and his colleagues wanted to find out. They surveyed 1,000 people aged 40 and older who were at average risk for colorectal cancer to find out their preferences for different screening modalities and what features of different screening types they most valued. The researchers asked about the following screening tests recommended by the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force:

  • FIT every year.
  • FIT–fecal DNA every 3 years.
  • Colon video capsule every 5 years.
  • CT colonography every 5 years.
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years.


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