Cancer Screening Debate Rages On

Here are several smart stories on cancer screening, aggregated by Kaiser Health News that offer some new insights on the preventive tests.

One medical journal suggests that patients and doctors are split when it comes to new mammogram guidelines that recommend women get routine screens every two years starting at age 50, rather than annual tests beginning at 40. On the other hand, patients appear amenable to screening for colorectal cancer, for example, if the tests are easier for them to endure. The Associated Press reports:

"Nearly half the people who need potentially lifesaving checks for the nation's No. 2 cancer killer — colorectal cancer — miss them. ... But what if you opened your mailbox one day to find an at-home test kit, no doctor's appointment needed? The dreaded colonoscopy may get the most attention but a cheap, old-fashioned stool test works, too." And, when Kaiser Permanente chose to mail such test kits "to patients due for a colon check, its screening rates jumped well above the national average. Now specialists are looking to Kaiser and the Veterans Affairs health system, another program that stresses stool-tests, for clues to what might encourage more people to get screened for a cancer that can be prevented, not just treated, if only early signs of trouble are spotted in time" (Neergaard, 2/15).

This program aired on February 16, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.


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