A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reports that Medicare beneficiaries who regularly saw their primary care physicians were less likely to develop colorectal cancer or die from the disease.
The researchers from Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, the University of South Florida, and Harvard Medical School examined data on Medicare beneficiaries.
“Medicare beneficiaries with higher utilization of primary care have lower [colorectal cancer] incidence and mortality,” the researchers concluded.
The researchers speculated that those participants who regularly saw a primary care physician may have been encouraged to healthier behaviors such as diet, smoking cessation, weight control, and exercise or that having a primary care provider may encourage screening for colon and rectal cancer.
Colonoscopy is the gold standard for screening for colorectal cancer both because this test can identify cancers at earlier more treatable stages and because precancerous polyps can be removed during the procedure a so-called colonoscopy with polypectomy.
Many people, however, fail to undergo the recommended screening.
Each year more than 140,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with colon and rectal cancers.