Survey of the opinions, knowledge, and practices of gastroenterologists regarding colorectal cancer screening and use of the fecal occult blood test

Virender K. Sharma, Fred A. Corder, Jennifer Fancher, Colin Howden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Primary care physicians and internal medicine residents have poor understanding of colorectal cancer screening and the use of fecal occult blood tests. If acceptance and implementation of colorectal cancer screening is to improve, gastroenterologists may have to take a more leading role in the education of their primary care colleagues, physicians in training, and the general public. However, before this can be recommended, it is necessary to determine how closely gastroenterologists follow currently recommended guidelines and how they use fecal occult blood tests. METHODS: We mailed a two-page, structured questionnaire about colorectal cancer screening and use of fecal occult blood tests to 8000 randomly selected gastroenterologists in the United States. RESULTS: We received responses from 24% of the gastroenterologists. Almost all used fecal occult blood tests in the office setting, 86% on stool obtained at rectal examination. The test was frequently used for reasons other than colorectal cancer screening, and often without adequate patient instruction on dietary and medication restrictions. Of the respondents, 98% commenced screening at age ≤50 yr, whereas 37% either continued screening into advanced age or never stopped. Annual fecal occult blood testing with flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 yr was the screening strategy recommended by 71% of the respondents, whereas 25% recommended colonoscopy every 10 yr. However, 77% of the gastroenterologists chose colonoscopy for personal colorectal cancer screening. CONCLUSIONS: Gastroenterologists usually give appropriate advice on colorectal cancer screening but often misuse fecal occult blood tests. This may produce excessively high false-positive screening rates, leading to unnecessary diagnostic testing without apparent benefit. (C) 2000 by Am. Coll. of Gastroenterology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3629-3632
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume95
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 30 2000
Externally publishedYes

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Occult Blood
Hematologic Tests
Early Detection of Cancer
Colorectal Neoplasms
Primary Care Physicians
Colonoscopy
Sigmoidoscopy
Gastroenterology
Internal Medicine
Gastroenterologists
Surveys and Questionnaires
Guidelines
Education

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gastroenterology

Cite this

Survey of the opinions, knowledge, and practices of gastroenterologists regarding colorectal cancer screening and use of the fecal occult blood test. / Sharma, Virender K.; Corder, Fred A.; Fancher, Jennifer; Howden, Colin.

In: American Journal of Gastroenterology, Vol. 95, No. 12, 30.12.2000, p. 3629-3632.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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