Screening is an important life-saving tool, the CDC said. In 2006, more than 139,000 new cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed and more than 53,000 people died from this cancer.
Screening tests can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening can also detect colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most effective, according to the CDC.
In 2006, more than 191,000 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and more than 40,000 died from the disease. Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easiest to treat.
The new reports find that a doctor's recommendation for screening is an important -- yet underused -- motivator. Encouraging doctors to prioritize cancer screening would greatly boost testing rates, the CDC said.
For more on colon and breast cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: July 2, 2010, teleconference with Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Marcus Plescia, M.D., M.P.H., director, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; July 6, 2010, CDC reports, Vital Signs: Colorectal Cancer Screening Among Adults Aged 50-75 Years -- United States, 2008, Vital Signs: Breast Cancer Screening Among Women Aged 50-74 Years -- United States, 2008
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