Regular doctor visits can help spot colon cancer


(HealthDay)—Making regular visits to a primary care doctor increases the odds you’ll be screened for colon cancer, a new study says.

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. But  is underused, the study authors said.

“These findings help underscore the continued importance and effectiveness of visits with  in a brave new world of virtual care and population health outreach,” said study co-author Dr. Ethan Halm.

He is director of the UT Southwestern Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research in Dallas.

The study researchers analyzed data from more than 968,000 Americans, aged 50 to 74, in four  across the country.

Those who saw a  doctor at least once a year were twice as likely to be screened for colon cancer. And they were 30 percent more likely to have a follow-up colonoscopy, compared with those who did not make regular visits to a primary care doctor, the researchers found.

This was true even among patients in health systems that heavily promote mail-in home stool blood tests that don’t require a doctor visit.

“This result is important because screening for  can result in an early diagnosis and improved survival,” Halm said in a university news release.

The study was published recently in the Journal of General Internal Medicine

Explore further: Mayo Clinic offers at-home colon cancer test

More information: The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on colon cancer screening.