Many People Still Not Being Screened for Colorectal Cancer

Posted on June 28th, 2011 by

A recent survey of U.S. adults age 50 and older found that 31% had never been screened for colorectal cancer. The survey was conducted by the Colon Cancer Alliance and Quest Diagnostics.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. For people at average risk of colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends that routine screening begin at age 50. Recommended options for screening include colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, double-contrast barium enema, fecal occult blood tests, fecal immunochemical tests, and stool DNA tests. In addition to detecting cancer at an early stage, colorectal cancer screening can also help to prevent the development of colorectal cancer; some screening tests can identify precancerous polyps that can be removed before they become cancerous.

Previous studies have suggested that compliance with colorectal cancer screening is fairly low. To collect information about current screening practices and beliefs, researchers surveyed 1,304 men and women age 50 or older.

  • 31% of respondents had never been screened for colorectal cancer.
  • Among those who had not been screened, 28% (more than one in four) said that their healthcare provider had not recommended that they be screened. Other reasons for not being screened included being too busy (18%), fear (16%), not knowing about the need for screening (16%), cost of insurance co-payment (15%), lack of health insurance (10%), and modesty or embarrassment (9%).
  • DNA blood tests have been developed as a colorectal cancer screening tool but have not yet been reviewed for inclusion in medical guidelines. Three-quarters of the respondents said that they would be willing to be screened more frequently if a blood test were available.

These results indicate that screening rates for colorectal cancer continue to be lower than they should be. Increased adherence to screening guidelines would decrease the number of deaths from colorectal cancer. Better communication from healthcare providers about the importance of screening, along with the availability of new and more-accepted screening tests, may increase colorectal cancer screening.

Reference: Colon Cancer Alliance and Quest Diagnostics. Press release: Nearly one in three men and women age 50 and older have not been screened for colon cancer; one in four say their healthcare provider didn’t recommend screening. June 16, 2011.

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Tags: Colon Cancer, News, Rectal Cancer, Screening/Prevention Colon Cancer, Screening/Prevention Rectal Cancer

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