It’s important to stay in good health so attending regular doctor visits are a natural part of life. As people age, these appointments become more crucial because the risk of complications increases. In order to avoid serious problems, people should not put off their annual visits.
According to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and funded by the American Cancer Society, older adults who regular see their primary care physician are less likely to develop colon cancer or die from the disease if they do.
“Specifically in terms of colorectal cancer this is very important to know, because that is one of the cancers that is preventable,” study author Dr. Jeanne Ferrante, associate professor in the department of family medicine and community health at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Somerset, said in News Day. “And we found that people who do visit their primary care physician are more likely to get screened for colorectal cancer. And those people, in turn, are less likely to get colorectal cancer, as well as less likely to die from it.”
Regularly seeing a doctor reduces the risk of developing or dying from colon cancer
For the study, researchers examined records for more than 100,000 patients aged 67 to 85 who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 1994 and 2004 in U.S. Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results regions, according to Daily RX. Researchers also analyzed data from more than 27,000 people who died from colorectal cancer and more than 62,000 people who died from any cause.
During the time period, 102,902 people developed colorectal cancer, 27,080 died from this disease.
Researchers also looked at the number of primary care visits people had in the time period before colorectal cancer diagnosis, incidence and death and all-cause mortality said Daily RX. The results showed that individuals who visited a primary care physician more regularly has lower incidence of colorectal cancer and mortality and death from any cause.
“The main takeaway here is that we need to improve access to primary care and encourage elderly people to use primary care,” Ferrante said, according to NBC News.
The Annals of Internal Medicine said that starting at age 50, people should get regular screens for colorectal cancer. If patients have a parent, sibling or child with the disease they should start screenings at age 40 or 10 years younger than the age at diagnosis of the individual’s youngest affected relative.
“We found, despite having universal Medicare insurance, 25 percent of these beneficiaries do not go to see primary care doctors… and these people were more likely to develop colorectal cancer,” Ferrante said in Reuters Health.
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