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Lab testing for colorectal cancer plays an important role in preserving the health of middle-age adults, but most experts say it is not appropriate for older individuals who have other health concerns. However, this does not stop many doctors from order the screening.
A new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine indicates that many physicians recommend colorectal cancer testing for seniors who already have terminal diseases. The screening not only offers little benefit to these patients, but it also could be risky.
For the study, researchers from the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis surveyed more than 1,000 physicians from various specialties. The survey presented doctors with nine different patient scenarios and asked if the respondent would recommend colorectal cancer screening.
The results showed that 25 percent of physicians would recommend colorectal cancer lab testing for patients over the age of 80 who have advanced lung cancer. Even if such a patient were to have early-stage colon cancer, they would likely die from other causes first.
Unnecessary testing leads to excessively high medical costs and jeopardizes the health of patients, the researchers said.
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