Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A new study examines cancer screening rates among patients with adult congenital heart disease.


For the first time, researchers are beginning to document and evaluate cancer screening rates among ACHD patients.  Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital collaborated with researchers at the University of Massachusetts: School of Medicine to conduct this study.  Data reveals the ACHD population is getting fewer cancer screenings than recommended by the American Cancer Society – an increasingly relevant topic as the population ages.

Ami Bhatt, MD, study author and co- director of the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program explained that the study sheds light on a growing trend among patients who seek specialty care, “Many patients who see specialty doctors, in this case cardiologists, fail to follow up or meet with their primary care doctors.” Bhatt went on to say, “It is crucial that specialists and primary care physicians define their roles to patients, as separate entities, and promote adequate and timely preventative cancer screening.” 

About the Study

The study appeared in the July issue of ISRN Cardiology Journal.  Researchers analyzed two years of medical record data of 175 adult women at a single cardiac care center.  Data regarding medical history, sexual history, pap smears, colonoscopy and mammography was consecutively selected between 2009 and 2011.  Cancer screening rates were based on criteria set forth by the American Cancer Society in 2010.

There are 1.3 million people with adult congenital heart disease in the United States and that population is expanding.  As this population ages, the potential risk of cancer also rises.

Study Results

According to the study, the overall screening for breast, cervical, and colon cancer among ACHD patients was 45%. 

Breast cancer screening rates were significantly lower in the ACHD population when compared with the recommended screening target in the US.  Mammography was performed in only 48% of the ACHD group, falling short of the national target of 70%.  Cervical Cancer screening was seen in 60% of ACHD patients, also falling short of the target screening rate of 90%.  Colon Cancer screening, however, did meet target screening rates. 54% of the ACHD population underwent colon cancer screening; the national target is 50%.

 “Our main goal, as care providers, is longitudinal care” said Bhatt, “this is our opportunity to work together to close the gap in medical care and transform our approach to the ACHD population’s overall well-being.”

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