Objectives: Women who participate in screening for breast cancer are more likely to participate in screening for colorectal cancer. We studied such a motivated group of women to identify predictors of, and barriers to, participation in colorectal cancer screening by endoscopy.
Methods: We distributed surveys to 551 women > or = 50 yr of age while they were awaiting mammography at four sites in and around Boston, MA from June to September, 2000. The 40-question survey assessed knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about, and behaviors toward, breast and colorectal cancer screening. Regression models were used to determine factors associated with having had sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.
Results: Seventy-nine percent of the women completed all or part of the survey. Half (221/438) reported ever having had sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Of these, 93% did so at the recommendation of their primary care provider. Factors associated with participation in endoscopic screening included compliance with annual fecal occult blood testing, a family history of colorectal cancer, and indifference toward the gender of the doctor performing the endoscopy.
Conclusions: Women undergoing mammography overwhelmingly cite the recommendation of their primary care provider as the reason for participating in colorectal cancer screening by endoscopy. Women who preferred a female endoscopist were less likely to have been screened. Whenever possible, primary care providers should offer women the choice of a female endoscopist for colorectal cancer screening.