Knowing cancer risk may not affect screening rate

Written by New York Times | New York | Updated: Nov 1 2014, 15:15pm hrs
Cancer screeningKnowing cancer risk may not affect screening rate, say scientists.
When scientists tested people for a genetic mutation that increases the risk for colon cancer, they thought that telling people of their increased risk would encourage them to get the recommended screening. They were wrong.

Researchers studied 783 people older than 50, the age when screening is recommended for everyone, who were not getting it at the start of the study.

Two-thirds of them received advice about colon cancer screening, a session of genetic counseling and a blood test that could tell them whether they were at average or increased risk for colon cancer. The other third received only the advice about the advantages of screening.

The study, published in the November issue of The Annals of Internal Medicine, found that over the next six months, 35.7 per cent of the usual care group were screened, compared with 33.1 per cent of the tested group, a statistically insignificant difference.

Even within the tested group, there was no significant difference in screening rates between those told they were at average risk and those told their risk was elevated.