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MONDAY, July 4, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Making regular visits to a primary care doctor increases the odds you'll be screened for colon cancer, a new study says.
"These findings help underscore the continued importance and effectiveness of visits with primary care physicians in a brave new world of virtual care and population health outreach," said study co-author Dr. Ethan Halm.
He is director of the UT Southwestern Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research in Dallas.
The study researchers analyzed data from more than 968,000 Americans, aged 50 to 74, in four health systems across the country.
Those who saw a primary care doctor at least once a year were twice as likely to be screened for colon cancer. And they were 30 percent more likely to have a follow-up colonoscopy, compared with those who did not make regular visits to a primary care doctor, the researchers found.
This was true even among patients in health systems that heavily promote mail-in home stool blood tests that don't require a doctor visit.
"This result is important because screening for colon cancer can result in an early diagnosis and improved survival," Halm said in a university news release.
The study was published recently in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
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SOURCE: UT Southwestern, news release, June 24, 2016