Study results published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism revealed that rheumatoid arthritis patients receive screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer, and colon cancer at a rate comparable to those who do not have rheumatoid arthritis. The analysis showed that both groups, people with and without rheumatoid arthritis, were screened on average every three years for cervical cancer and every two years for breast cancer. Of those 50 years or older, 12% of rheumatoid arthritis patients versus 10% of those without rheumatoid arthritis had an annual colonoscopy. Women with rheumatoid arthritis were more likely than those without the disease to have an annual Pap test, mammogram, fecal occult blood test, and colonoscopy. Also, it was determined that men with rheumatoid arthritis were more likely than those without the disease to have a colonoscopy.
What's the significance of these findings? Previous studies had concluded that cancer screening rates were lower for people with rheumatoid arthritis than for the general population. Rheumatoid arthritis patients have a decreased life expectancy compared to the general population -- with cancer being among the reasons why. It is very important for people with rheumatoid arthritis to have regular cancer screenings and lower their risk of mortality.
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