‘Tis the Season for Colorectal Screening? Give a Life-Saving Gift this Christmas.

Merry Christmas, and get a colorectal exam! Sound unusual? Well, a new study shows that sending reminders for colorectal screening exams during the December holiday season or near individuals’ birthdays increases attendance. The possible reason, say the study’s authors, could be because birthdays and holidays trigger feelings about aging.

More Information:

According to a report in WebMD Health News, the study, conducted by professors at The Cancer Registry of Norway, is published on BMJ Online. 

In Norway, 20,003 participants were invited for screenings, and 12,960 attended. 

Attendance was higher in December (72.3% vs. 64.6% the rest of the year) and for participants who were invited in the week of their birthdays or assigned an appointment within two weeks after their birthdays (67.9% vs. 64.5% for nonbirthday invitees).

The authors suggest health officials schedule reminders near the holidays and/or patients’ birthdays. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide, and more than 1 million new cases are detected each year.

“There might be a potential for improving compliance with screening programs by playing on perception of ages or annual milestones,” the authors write. “We suggest that screening programs should consider the potential benefits of timing appointments for screening in the first or second weeks after birthdays and extending working hours in December.”

I have a few other ideas:

  • Consider giving the Christmas gift of a colonoscopy to those you love who are fifty years of age or older.
  • Consider giving a Christmas card encouraging your loved ones to be screened for colon cancer and offering to accompany them to the exam.
  • Consider giving a gift certificate or a reward (like taking your loved one out to a nice meal) to your loved one after they have their exam.

See these recent stories on colonoscopy:

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