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Doctor-Patient Talks Key to Blacks Getting Cancer Screens

Last Updated: April 20, 2009.

Poor communication a major problem in low screening rates but one that can be fixed, study suggests.

MONDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- Poor doctor-patient communication and not having a regular primary-care doctor may be major reasons for low colorectal cancer screening rates among black Americans, a new study suggests.

Researchers surveyed 1,081 blacks, aged 65 to 79, in Baltimore, and found that those who'd been screened for colorectal cancer were more likely to report better overall health status than those who hadn't been screened.

Further analysis revealed that respondents who said their doctor "explains things in a way you understand" were 50 percent more likely to have been screened for colorectal cancer. The researchers also found that respondents who said they saw a primary care doctor on a regular basis were 2.5-times more likely to have been screened than those who didn't have a regular doctor.

Having supplemental health insurance increased the likelihood of screening by 40 percent, the survey found.

"The barriers to screening exist even when a population is insured," study author Jean G. Ford, associate professor in the department of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in an American Association for Cancer Research news release. "One of the key interventions to promote screening appears to be better communication, which fortunately, is a barrier that can be overcome."

The study was presented at the 100th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, in Denver.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about colorectal cancer screening.

SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, April 19, 2009