How Providers Can Help Patients Overcome Barriers to CRC Screening

By Tammy Triglianos, DNP, ANP-BC, AOCNP, Mary B. Morgan, MSN, ANP-BC, AOCN, Cecilia Brown - Last Updated: November 13, 2023

There can be multiple barriers to colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. However, there are several ways to overcome challenges and barriers related to screening, speakers said during a presentation at JADPRO Live, the Annual APSHO Meeting.

Tammy Triglianos, DNP, ANP-BC, AOCNP, of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Mary B. Morgan, MSN, ANP-BC, AOCN, of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, delivered the presentation, which was titled “Optimizing the Care of Patients with Colorectal Cancer in Clinical Practice.”

Ms. Morgan spoke about the importance of screening and how providers in the community settings can ensure patients get the appropriate recommendations for screening.

“I think it’s really important for us to keep in mind to check on our other patients—whether they’re being treated for breast cancer or [genitourinary] cancer—to make sure they’re still up to date on their colorectal cancer screening,” Ms. Morgan said. “Oftentimes, when patients are coming to us for treatment or surveillance, they’re not following up with their primary care provider, so they’re not getting that recommendation from them, and it’s falling through the cracks.”

Ms. Morgan explained what she sees as the “important take-home message” about CRC screening for providers who work in the community setting: “You still need to maintain those routine health care maintenance [recommendations] for your regular patients, because sometimes you are the only provider they see.”

Dr. Triglianos said it’s critical to understand the multiple barriers and challenges that patients can face in terms of screening for CRC. For example, she said that transportation and time off work are common obstacles for many patients. In cases where there are barriers to screening, she recommends presenting alternatives to coloscopies, such as a fecal immunochemical test. Dr. Triglianos also spoke about the importance of patient education on CRC screening.

“Nurses and nurse practitioners are one of the most trusted medical professions, so I think having communication and talking with our patients about the importance, the ‘why?’ behind the test and explaining it [is important],” she said.

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