PHILADELPHIA Although colorectal cancer screening tests are proven to reduce colorectal cancer mortality, only about half of U.S. men and women 50 and older receive the recommended tests, according to a report in the July 2008 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a National Health Interview Survey and found only 50 percent of men and women 50 and older had received screening in 2005. Although this was an improvement over the 43 percent of screened individuals reported in 2000, it is still far from optimal, investigators say.
"Colorectal cancer is one of the leading cancer killers in the United States, behind only lung cancer. Screening has been shown to significantly reduce mortality from colorectal cancer, but a lot of people are still not getting screened," said Jean A. Shapiro, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Shapiro says a major problem appears to be insurance coverage. Among people without health insurance, researchers found the rate of colorectal cancer screening was 24.1 percent compared to over 50 percent of insured Americans, depending on the type of insurance. Among patients without a usual source of health care, the screening rate was 24.7 percent compared to 51.9 percent of patients with a usual source of health care.
"If we can increase the number of people who have health care coverage, we should be able to increase colorectal cancer screening rates," said Shapiro.
Shapiro says the increase in colorectal cancer screening rates observed from 2000 to 2005 may have been due in part to increased media coverage of the importance of colonoscopy as a measure to prevent cancer and detect it early, including a broadcast of Katie Couric, then co-host of NBC's Today show, undergoing a colonoscopy. However, Shapiro adds
|Contact: Jeremy Moore|
American Association for Cancer Research