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Low Cancer Screening Rates Raise Cancer Burden

Posted Feb 13 2012 10:13pm
Posted on 2012-02-13 06:00:00 in Cancer | Diagnostics |

Each year, approximately 350,000 persons are diagnosed with breast, cervical, or colorectal cancer in the United States, and nearly 100,000 die from these diseases.  The Healthy People 2020 plan set national screening-rate goals of 81.1% for breast cancer, 93.0% for cervical cancer, and 70.5% for colorectal cancer. Yet, large numbers of Americans who should have these screenings are not getting them.  US National Cancer Institute (NCI; Maryland, USA) researchers analyzed data collected for the federal National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) involving 40,000 households and up to 100,000 individuals, in 2010.  Finding screening rates of 59% for colorectal cancer, 72% for breast cancer, and 83% for cervical cancer, these rates were well below Healthy People 2020 targets.  Racial and ethnic disparities in cancer screenings persist: the lowest screening rates were seen among Asian Americans, especially those of Chinese ancestry.  Also, Hispanics were less likely to report on-time screening for cervical and colorectal cancer than non-Hispanics.  Among college graduates, screening rates were below Healthy People 2020 targets, though breast cancer screening in this group came close (80.8%). For cervical and colorectal cancer, 89.0% and 67.3% of college grads reported having been screened within the recommended interval.  The study authors urge that: “Efforts should be made to improve screening rates in all population groups (including targeting populations with particularly low levels of cancer screening) to increase population screening levels to meet Healthy People 2020 targets and reduce cancer morbidity and mortality.”

“Cancer Screening United States, 2010.”  Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), January 27, 2012; Vol. 61, No. 3.

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