TUESDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with advanced cancer continue to undergo common cancer screening tests that are unlikely to provide benefit because of their shortened life expectancy, according to research published in the Oct. 13 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Camelia S. Sima, M.D., M.S., of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in
New York City, and colleagues conducted a study of cancer screening procedures
in 87,736 Medicare enrollees aged
65 years or older diagnosed with advanced lung, colorectal, pancreatic, gastroesophageal,
or breast cancer. The purpose of the study was to assess the degree to which patients with advanced cancer continue
getting routine cancer screenings. Individuals without cancer matched for demographic data were used as controls.
Women with advanced cancers continued to receive mammography screening (8.9 percent versus 22 percent of controls) and Pap test screening
(5.8 percent versus 12.5 percent). Men with advanced cancers received
PSA testing (15 percent versus 27.2 percent), and advanced cancer patients of both genders continued to receive lower gastrointestinal endoscopy (1.7 percent versus 4.7 percent). Advanced cancer patients who had been receiving a screening test before their cancer diagnosis were most likely to continue getting these screenings.
"The most plausible interpretation
of our data is that efforts
to foster adherence to screening have
led to deeply ingrained habits. Patients
and their health care practitioners
accustomed to obtaining screening
tests at regular intervals continue
to do so even when the benefits have
been rendered futile in the face of competing
risk from advanced cancer," the authors write.
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