To evaluate current colorectal cancer (CRC) screening practices in Saskatchewan and identify barriers to screening with the goal of improving current practice.
Survey of family physicians.
A total of 773 family physicians were surveyed.
Main outcome measures
Demographic characteristics, individual screening practices, and perceived barriers to screening.
The response rate to the survey was 44.5%. When asked what method they used for fecal occult blood testing, almost 40% of respondents were either unsure or did not answer the question. Of those who did respond, 35.8% employed hemoccult testing following digital rectal examination, a practice not recommended for CRC screening. Screening guidelines for average-risk patients were generally well adhered to, with 79.9% of respondents recommending screening beginning at age 50. For screening patients at increased risk of CRC owing to family history, only 64.2% of respondents began screening 10 years before the age of the index patient at diagnosis. Physicians who were more likely to follow guidelines were female, in practice fewer than 10 years, trained in Canada, and practising in urban areas. More than 90% of family physicians agreed that a standard provincewide screening program would be beneficial.
We have identified considerable knowledge gaps with regard to CRC screening. There is confusion about which fecal occult blood tests are recommended for screening. Also, screening guidelines for patients with a family history of CRC are poorly understood. These findings suggest that better physician education about CRC screening is required. Introduction of a provincewide screening program should improve overall screening success.