TUESDAY, July 5 (HealthDay News) -- The death rates from colon cancer continue to drop in the United States, but they could fall even further if more people were screened, government health officials reported Tuesday.
Although two-thirds of Americans were screened for colon cancer by 2010, 22 million more hadn't been, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Between 2003 and 2007, the number of new cases of colon cancer fell from 52.3 per 100,000 people to 45.4 per 100,000, according to the CDC report. That drop means there were 66,000 fewer cases of the disease.
In addition, the death rate from colon cancer, the number two cancer killer, dropped over the same time from 19 per 100,000 people to 16.7 per 100,000, the researchers found. That means that 32,000 fewer people died from the disease.
"Colon cancer can be prevented," CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said during a noon press conference Tuesday. "Screening is highly effective."
"By preventing colon cancer, we can help people live longer, healthier, more productive lives while reducing health-care costs," he added.
Frieden spoke from personal experience. "I turned 50 a few months ago and I do have a strong family history of colorectal cancer, so I did have a colonoscopy at age 40," he told reporters. "It was normal. At age 50, I had another colonoscopy. I had four polyps -- two of them large -- all of them removed before they became cancerous."
He added, "If I hadn't had colon cancer screening, I could well be dead in another 10 or 15 years. I anticipate that I will never have colon cancer, because I will continue to get follow-ups. I hope every American has the ability to access and take advantage of colon cancer screening."
The report, Vital Signs: Colorectal Cancer Screening, Incidence, and Mortality -- United States, 2002-2010, wa
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