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The full report is titled “Primary Care Utilization and Colorectal Cancer Incidence and Mortality Among Medicare Beneficiaries. A Population-Based, Case–Control Study.” It is in the 1 October 2013 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 159, pages 437-446). The authors are J.M. Ferrante, J.H. Lee, E.P. McCarthy, K.J. Fisher, R. Chen, E.C. Gonzalez, K. Love-Jackson, and R.G. Roetzheim.
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Each year, more than 50,000 people in the United States die from colorectal cancer (CRC). Although screening helps prevent CRC, only about half of people aged 50 years or older in this country have ever been screened.
To examine the association between patients' use of primary care services and incidence of CRC and deaths. The researchers noticed an association between more primary care visits and fewer cases of CRC in a previous study that did not have a control group.
People between the ages 67 and 85 years who were enrolled in Medicare between 1994 and 2007.
The researchers first identified people with CRC (case participants). They then identified people without it who were about the same age and lived nearby (control participants). Finally, they compared the frequency of primary care visits between case and control participants.
People with more primary care visits were more likely to be control participants, and those with fewer primary care visits were more likely to be case participants.
This study identified an association between more primary care visits and fewer CRC cases, but it could not establish that the increase in primary care visits caused the decrease in the CRC cases.
The results of this study are consistent with the results of other studies suggesting that improving access to primary care and encouraging people to use primary care will increase screening and reduce the burden of CRC.
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