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Too Few Americans Getting Screened for Common Cancers: CDC
Date:1/26/2012

Bernik also admits that screening can result in some over-treatment.

"With screening comes that risk," she said. "Unfortunately, we are not at a point where we can select the patients that are not going to have a problem, so we treat everyone equally. So, there is a little bit of over-treatment but, overall, you are improving survival for many people."

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women aged 50 to 74 get a mammogram every two years to screen for breast cancer.

Women aged 21 to 65, or those who have been sexually active for three years, should have a Pap test to screen for cervical cancer at least every three years, the task force recommends.

For colorectal cancer, men and women aged 50 to 75 should be screened with a yearly fecal occult blood test or sigmoidoscopy every five years, or have a colonoscopy every 10 years.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • Breast cancer screening rates remained stable from 2000-2010, varying only about 3 percent.
  • Colon cancer screening rates increased from 2000-2010, to more than 58 percent for both men and women.
  • Cervical cancer screening rates dipped 3.3 percent from 2000-2010.
  • Screening rates for all these cancers was much lower among the uninsured or those who didn't have a regular doctor.

The Affordable Care Act is expected to lower these barriers to access by expanding insurance coverage, the authors said.

"Other efforts are needed, such as developing systems that identify persons eligible for cancer screening tests, actively encouraging the use of screening tests, and monitoring participation to improve screening rates," the authors added.

More information

For more on cancer screening, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Mary C. White, Sc.D., M.P.H.,
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