In today’s symposium “Growing Older With CF” at the 30th Annual North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference (NACFC) in Orlando, Florida, Cathy Chacon, RN, from National Jewish Health, presented a discussion about integrating routine screenings into overall healthcare for aging CF patients.
The session was titled “Recommended Screenings for Adults with CF.”
The development of new therapies is extending the life expectancy of cystic fibrosis patients. In the U.S., the majority of CF patients are over 18 with a median predicted survival age of 40. Given that healthcare requirements change as all patients age, cystic fibrosis care teams are now challenged with monitoring evolving health parameters of their CF patients.
A growing number of studies show that CF patients are at a high risk for developing adenomatous polyps, which has prompted research into the need for colonoscopy screening. The polyps are benign (non-cancerous) growths that develop on the mucous membrane of the large intestine, but are more likely than other types of colon polyps to become cancerous. The association of cystic fibrosis and adenomatous polyps now requires colonoscopy screening by age 40.
Cystic fibrosis patients also exhibit an increased risk for developing secondary cancers. Because breast cancer is a leading cause of death in women, Chacon urges CF patients to get mammograms by the age of 40, per American Cancer Society recommendations.
Bone loss is another consequence of aging that could be new to older CF patients. Porous bones can lead to diseases such as osteopenia and osteoporosis, which both raise the risk for bone fractures. CF researchers recommend bone densitometry scans (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry tests) every one to five years, depending on the results.
Aging CF patients are also seeing more CF-related diabetes (CFRD). Chacon reminded patients they should follow the common methods for diabetes assessment, including keeping track of blood glucose, food intake, and hemoglobin a1c levels.
According to CFRD guidelines, it is important to also screen for complications that can occur with diabetes including retinopathy and hypertension.
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