Screening patients with a family history of colorectal cancer.

Research paper by Robert H RH Fletcher, Rebecca R Lobb, Mark R MR Bauer, James Alan JA Kemp, Richard C RC Palmer, Ken P KP Kleinman, Irina I Miroshnik, Karen M KM Emmons

Indexed on: 21 Mar '07Published on: 21 Mar '07Published in: Journal of General Internal Medicine


To compare screening practices and beliefs in patients with and without a clinically important family history.We mailed a brief questionnaire asking about family history and a second, longer survey asking about knowledge of and beliefs about colorectal cancer to all respondents with a family history and a random sample of respondents without a family history of colorectal cancer. We reviewed electronic medical records for screening examinations and recording of family history.One thousand eight hundred seventy of 6,807 randomly selected patients ages 35-55 years who had been continuously enrolled in a large multispecialty group practice for at least 5 years.Recognition of increased risk, screening practices, and beliefs-all according to strength of family history and patient's age.Nineteen percent of respondents reported a family history of colorectal cancer. In 11%, this history was strong enough to warrant screening before age 50 years. However, only 39% (95% CI 36, 42) of respondents under the age of 50 years said they had been asked about family history and only 45% of those with a strong family history of colorectal cancer had been screened appropriately. Forty-six percent of patients with a strong family history did not know that they should be screened at a younger age than average risk people. Medical records mentioned family history of colorectal cancer in 59% of patients reporting a family history.More efforts are needed to translate information about family history of colorectal cancer into the care of patients.