What measurement means for colorectal cancer screening

Colorectal (colon) cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States among men and women. Nationally, colon cancer rates have dropped 30% during the past decade, largely due to an increase in screenings. However, colon cancer is still expected to cause over 50,000 deaths this year. Colon cancer forms in the tissues of the colon (the longest part of the large intestine). Most colon cancers begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer may include:

  • Sudden onset of diarrhea or constipation
  • Blood in your stool/feces
  • Pain in your belly or abdomen, and vomiting
  • Sometimes there are no symptoms

Routine screening starting at age 50 can prevent many cases of colon cancer, or find it at an early stage. There are two main categories of screening tests: tests that can find cancer, and tests that can find colorectal polyps and cancer. These tests can be used before someone has symptoms, when someone has symptoms, or if someone has other problems with their digestive system.

Tests that look for polyps and cancer Tests that look for Cancer
Flexible sigmoidoscopy Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
Colonoscopy Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
Double-contrast barium enema Stool DNA tests
CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy)  

Visit the American Cancer Society to learn more  

The statewide rate of colorectal cancer screening by all reporting medical groups is 71%. This means 71 of 100 adults in Minnesota and neighboring areas between ages 50 and 75 who saw a doctor were current on their colorectal cancer screening tests.

High rates of colorectal cancer screening can be a sign of strong clinic performance in colorectal cancer prevention and treatment. It’s important to know that small differences in percentages don’t necessarily reflect the quality of care you’ll receive with a certain medical group or clinic. It is more important to note the large differences between providers, and speak with your doctor if you have questions or concerns.

Risk-adjusted measures

The information reported about this measure on MNHealthScores is risk-adjusted.

Risk adjustment is a way to make it easier to compare clinics or medical groups by accounting for the differences of specific patient groups. The process should separate the clinic/medical group’s true impact on patients’ health and allow them to be compared more easily.

MN Community Measurement uses an actual-to-expected process, which is also known as a methodology. This process does not change a clinic/medical group’s result; the actual rate remains the same. Instead, each clinic/medical group’s actual rate is compared to the rate that we expected to see, based on the different types of patient characteristics seen at that clinic/medical group.

More details about our risk adjustment methodology and the variables used for the measures reported on MNHealthScores.org can be found in the most current Health Care Quality Report.

How we calculate the measure

We measure how many patients between the ages 50 and 75 are current on screening for colorectal cancer at each medical group or clinic. This report is based on information about patients who visited their health care provider between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. This information is collected under the measure name Colorectal Cancer Screening.