Colonoscopy rates were similar during versus before the COVID-19 pandemic, but use of the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) increased, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons, held virtually from Oct. 23 to 27.
Kristine Kenning, M.D., from the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study involving 745 individuals to examine attitudes toward colorectal cancer screening during the pandemic.
The researchers found that respondents had higher completion of FOBT in the previous three years than American Cancer Society-reported FOBT use pre-COVID-19 (32 versus 11 percent); during the pandemic, 50 percent of respondents completed FOBT. Compared with pre-COVID-19 rates, respondents had higher unemployment rates (7.4 versus 2.6 percent). When scheduling colonoscopies, respondents confirmed concerns about copays and COVID-19 (41 and 65.9 percent, respectively). Some of those who had concerns reported that this delayed their screening. The likelihood of colonoscopy was increased with offerings of gloves and masks, smaller offices, and weekend screening. In lieu of colonoscopy, 48.1 percent of respondents were willing to do an at-home FOBT. If the FOBT was positive, 93.0 percent would be willing to do a follow-up colonoscopy.
“Our study found that people are compliant with, and willing to do, home-based fecal occult blood testing,” Kenning said in a statement. “This test provides a very important way for us to increase screening for colorectal cancer.”
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