Background: Despite limited evidence of its effectiveness, most guidelines recommend colorectal cancer survivors undergo posttreatment surveillance care. This article describes the posttreatment use of colon examinations, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) testing, and metastatic disease testing among a managed care population.
Methods: Two hundred fifty-one patients with colorectal cancer enrolled in a managed care organization at diagnosis (1/1/90-12/31/95) and treated with curative intent. Patients were identified via a Cancer Registry maintained by a large group practice. Cumulative incidences of service receipt were estimated using actuarial (Kaplan-Meier) survival analyses. Co- Proportional Hazard Models were used to evaluate the relation of patient sociodemographic and clinical characteristics to service receipt. Average 8-year medical care expenditures were calculated.
Results: Within 18 months of treatment, 55% of the cohort received a colon examination, 71% received CEA testing, and 59% received metastatic disease testing. Whites were more likely than minorities to receive CEA testing (RR = 1.47, P = 0.04) and tended to be more likely to receive a colon examination (RR = 1.43, P = 0.09). As the median household income of a patient's zip code of residence increased, so too did the likelihood of colon examination and metastatic disease testing receipt (RR = 1.09, P = 0.03 and RR = 1.12, P <0.01, respectively). Average 8-year medical care expenditures among the cohort were $30,247.
Conclusions: Among a population with financial access to care, differences were found in the receipt of colorectal cancer surveillance care by race and income. Additional investigations are needed to understand why minorities and those residing in low-income areas are less likely to receive surveillance care.