Primary-care doctors do colonoscopies well: study

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Primary-care doctors perform colonoscopies just as well as specialists, a finding that could help meet the rising need for this important colorectal cancer screening test, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

As populations in the United States and other nations age, the number of people who could benefit from a colonoscopy is outpacing the number of specialists such as gastroenterologists who typically do it, the researchers said.

Dr. Thad Wilkins of the Medical College of Georgia and colleagues examined 12 studies published from 1992 to 2006 to assess the quality of colonoscopies performed by primary-care doctors, mostly family medicine doctors and internists, who are more numerous than the specialists.

Based on measures such as the frequency of complications, the amount of the colon examined and rates of detecting cancer and precancerous growths, they found that these colonoscopies were as safe and effective as those done by specialists.

Among other things, Wilkins found a very low complication rate among colonoscopies by primary-care doctors.

The findings suggest that primary-care physicians who are trained in colonoscopy help expand access to colonoscopies, particularly in rural and sparsely populated areas where specialists may be scarce, the researchers said.

A colonoscopy is used to look for signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. A doctor inserts a long, flexible, lighted tube into the rectum and guides it into the colon, checking for abnormalities.

During the procedure, the doctor may remove precancerous growths, preventing the development of cancer, and take tissue samples. The procedure can detect colorectal cancer at early stages when it responds best to treatment.

Last week, a report from colonoscope maker Olympus Corp. and The Lewin Group healthcare consulting firm, projected a shortfall of more than 1,000 gastroenterologists by 2020.

Wilkins said the study looked at colonoscopies done by primary-care doctors who were properly trained to do them.

“So it doesn’t apply to all primary-care physicians. And it’s probably about 5 percent or less of primary-care physicians who are trained at colonoscopy,” Wilkins, whose findings appear in the journal Annals of Family Medicine, said in a telephone interview.

The researchers reviewed data on 18,292 patients who had colonoscopies in 10 studies in the United States and two in Canada.

The American Cancer Society recommends that beginning at age 50, men and women should get a colonoscopy every 10 years or another colorectal screening test such as the similar flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years.

But fewer than a third of those who are advised to get a colonoscopy actually have the screening procedure.

(Editing by Maggie Fox and David Wiessler)


Related Posts:

By Will Boggs, MD NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The surgical removal of small colon polyps found during computed tomography imaging of the colon, or CT colonography, is costly and unnecessary, according to a new study. “We shouldn’t aggressively pursue sub-centimeter lesions, since the costs, risks, and inconvenience of the subsequent colonoscopy outweighs the clinical importance of

Full Post: Removing small colon polyps costly, unnecessary

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Screening for colorectal cancer by colonoscopy seems to prevent about two-thirds of deaths from colon cancer, rather than 90 percent as has been widely claimed, a study indicates. In fact, the results show that the benefit of colonoscopy in preventing deaths from colorectal cancer is largely limited to malignancies that occur

Full Post: Real-world colonoscopy benefit seen more limited

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Colorectal cancer diagnoses and deaths have fallen in the United States this decade, but the gap in progress between whites and blacks is widening, the American Cancer Society said on Monday. Improvement has come about chiefly due to prevention and early detection through colonoscopy and other screening methods recommended starting at

Full Post: U.S. blacks lag whites in colorectal cancer progress

LONDON (Reuters) - A national screening program in Finland has detected about 40 percent of colon cancers early, showing that such tests can make a difference, Finnish researchers reported on Friday. Researchers studied 106,000 men and women aged between 60 and 64 across Finland to examine the effectiveness of a colon cancer screening program started in

Full Post: Study backs Finland’s colon cancer screening

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Primary care doctors in the United States feel overworked and nearly half plan to either cut back on how many patients they see or quit medicine entirely, according to a survey released on Tuesday. And 60 percent of 12,000 general practice physicians found they would not recommend medicine as a career. “The whole thing

Full Post: Many doctors plan to quit or cut back: survey

Site Navigation

Most Read