Data Transparency Measure:
Colorectal Cancer Screening
What is colorectal cancer? Why Screen?
Colorectal cancer is term used to describe cancer that starts in either the colon or the rectum, although these cancers can be referred to separately as well. The colon and rectum are parts of the gastrointestinal (GI) system, or digestive system, and serve to absorb fluid and form solid waste that later passes through your body. While different parts of the body, the cancer that affects these organs are similar in nature.
Most colorectal cancers begin as a growth, also known as a polyp, that forms on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Not all polyps are pre-cancerous, but if cancer does form, it can eventually transition into the walls of the colon or rectum. The stage of colorectal cancer is identified by how deeply it has spread into the walls and if it has spread outside the walls. The most common type of colorectal cancer is called adenocarcinomas, which starts in the glands that make mucus to lubricate the colon or rectum. This type of cancer makes up more than 95% of colorectal cancers.
Screening and early detection contributes to the decreased rates of colorectal cancer diagnoses and death rates. By screening for colorectal cancer, you can better identify and remove polyps before cancer develops, detect cancer in the early stages of formation and reduce the cost of treating cancer that has developed. According to research conducted by the American Cancer Society, survival rates when diagnosed at the localized state are 90% and significantly reduce to 13% when diagnosed at the distant state (when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body).
Common screening methods include flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and fecal immunochemical test (FIT). There are many barriers to getting patients screened including lack of education among patients at to why it's important/benefits of screening, fear or discomfort among patients, the time and cost of screening, access to screening and lack of clinical systems and workflows to support screening.
UDS Definition 2017
to be linked to the current UDS Definition.
What action can we take as a clinic to improve this measure?
There are many actions you can take to improve this measure, including:
- Conduct patient and provider education on the importance of screening and various screening methods
- Determine your baseline screening rates, choose a test and develop a screening strategy
- Conduct PDSA cycles on your screening strategy to ensure effectiveness
- Identify internal champions and potential partners for improving this measure
- Developing effective policies and procedures around colorectal cancer screening processes
- Create patient and provider reminder and tracking systems for overdue screenings
- Take a patient-centered approach to screening to reduce fear and discomfort
Helpful materials for taking action:
For more information on this measure, refer to the links below:
Resources and Tools for Colorectal Cancer Screening:
Have an article, workflow, tool or anything else that you would like to share with other clinics about this measure? Email the Data Transparency Team at .