Many Older Adults Welcome A Stop To Cancer Screenings Interview with:

Nancy Schoenborn, MD Assistant Professor Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Nancy Schoenborn, MD
Assistant Professor
Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine What are the main findings?

Response: A lot of cancer screenings are not expected to save lives until up to 10 years later; however, the side effects of the test happen right away. Because of this, clinical guidelines have recommended against routine screening for those patients who will not live long enough to benefit but may experience the potential harm of the test in the short term. However, many patients with limited life expectancy still receive screening and clinicians are worried about how patients would react if they recommended that patients stop screening. This research is important because it is the first study that explores how patients think about the decision of stopping cancer screening and how patients want to talk to their doctors about this issue. Understanding patient perspectives would help improve screening practices and better align recommendations and patient preference. What are the main findings?

Response: We found that older adults are open to stop screening. Many welcome such recommendations from their clinicians. However, they are less familiar with the concept of using life expectancy to guide cancer screening and are more receptive to discussions that focus on their age, health status, and living longer. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Clinicians should be reassured that patients are open to talking about stopping cancer screening and have these discussions with the appropriate patients. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The study included participants with a wide range of age, health status and life expectancies. However, it is still a small sample and the findings need to be tested in larger populations.

No disclosures. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Schoenborn NL, Lee K, Pollack CE, Armacost K, Dy SM, Bridges JFP, Xue Q, Wolff AC, Boyd C. Older Adults’ Views and Communication Preferences About Cancer Screening Cessation. JAMA Intern Med. Published online June 12, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.1778

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.


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