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Many Dialysis Patients Get Unnecessary Colonoscopies
Study finds that a limited life span offsets the benefits of the screening test

By Robert Preidt

FRIDAY, March 24, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Older Americans on kidney dialysis have high rates of colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, but most get little benefit from the screening, a new study suggests.

Dialysis patients have high rates of death, so routine colon cancer screening doesn't improve survival for most dialysis patients who don't qualify for a kidney transplant.

Therefore, dialysis patients who have a limited life expectancy and no signs or symptoms of colon cancer shouldn't undergo screening for the disease, according to the American Society of Nephrology.

"Physicians should carefully evaluate patients' prognoses and consider the likelihood that they will truly benefit before ordering screening tests," said study co-leader Dr. Christopher Carlos, from the University of California, San Francisco.

In this study, researchers reviewed data from more than 469,000 Medicare beneficiaries. They were all 50 and older. All had started receiving dialysis between 2007 and 2012.

Over an average follow-up of 1.5 years, almost 12 percent of those patients underwent colonoscopy screening.

The healthiest dialysis patients were 1.5 times more likely to be screened than the least healthy. Those more likely to receive a kidney transplant were 1.7 times more likely to be screened than those least likely to receive a kidney transplant, the study showed.

When compared to Medicare beneficiaries who weren't on dialysis but had similarly limited life expectancies, the dialysis patients had an 8 times higher colonoscopy screening rate.

The study was published March 23 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

"While our findings suggest that the patients with the longest life expectancy and greatest chances of receiving a kidney transplant are the most likely to be screened, there remains a substantial amount of over-screening overall among patients on dialysis," said study co-leader Dr. Kirsten Johansen, also from UCSF. Both team leaders spoke in a journal news release.

More information

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

SOURCE: Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, news release, March 23, 2017

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=720818

Resources from HONselect: HONselect is the HON's medical search engine. It retrieves scientific articles, images, conferences and web sites on the selected subject.
Dialysis
Colonoscopy
Mass Screening
Neoplasms
Kidney
Transplants
Colonic Neoplasms
Life Expectancy
The list of medical terms above are retrieved automatically from the article.

Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
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