70% of CRC deaths for Kaiser beneficiaries occurred due to screening gaps: 6 key study facts

A new analysis from Kaiser Permanente networks in northern and southern California found nearly 70 percent of patients who died of colorectal cancer were not up to date on their screenings for the condition, Gastroenterology and Endoscopy News reported.

The researchers analyzed 1,750 colorectal cancer deaths that occurred between 2006 and 2012, only including deaths of patients 55 and older who had been enrolled in the health networks for at least five years.

Being up to date on screenings was defined as having been screened at least once at recommended intervals, and receiving surveillance after a positive polyp test. The researchers presented their findings at the 2018 Digestive Disease Week.

Here are the important details to know:

1. About 65 percent of deaths occurred in patients not up to date on screenings, or who hadn't received surveillance after a positive test. Half of the patients in this group had never been screened, while the other half had been screened, but not at recommended intervals.

2. Ten percent of patients died of colorectal after not receiving a follow up due to a positive test, and 24 percent of deaths occurred in patients who were up-to-date on their screening, showing the screening failed to prevent death from colorectal cancer.

3. The researchers noted cancers on the right side of the colon represented 62.5 percent of CRC deaths occurring in patients not up to date on their screenings.

4. Colorectal cancer deaths occurred more in patients with fewer primary care visits, and who were not up-to-date on screening.

5. Kaiser Permanente launched a program in 2006 to increase colorectal cancer screenings, with the rate of patients being screened rising from 40 percent to 80 percent by 2012 as a result. The improvement in screening was associated with a 50 percent reduction in colorectal cancer deaths.

6. "We cannot eliminate all cases of CRC deaths, but these data point to further opportunities to decrease death by increasing the proportion of patients who are up-to-date," said Douglas A. Corely, MD, one of the study's researchers.

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