Monday, July 14, 2008

Colorectal cancer screenings still low

Colorectal cancer screening tests have been proven to reduce colorectal cancer mortality, but a recent National Health study showed that only about half of U.S. men and women 50 and older receive the recommended tests.Endoscopic image of colon cancer identified in...Image via Wikipedia: endocopic screening of colon cancer
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a National Health Interview Survey and found only 50 percent of men and women 50 and older had received screening in 2005. Although this was an improvement over the 43 percent of screened individuals reported in 2000, it is still suboptimal.

Colorectal cancer is one of the leading cancer killers in the United States, behind only lung cancer. Screening has been shown to significantly reduce mortality from colorectal cancer, but a lot of people are still not getting screened.

A major problem could be insurance coverage in the US. Among people without health insurance, the rate of colorectal cancer screening was 24.1 percent compared to over 50 percent of insured Americans, depending on the type of insurance. Among patients without a usual source of health care, the screening rate was 24.7 percent compared to 51.9 percent of patients with a usual source of health care.

The increase in colorectal cancer screening rates observed from 2000 to 2005 may have been due in part to increased media coverage of the importance of colonoscopy as a measure to prevent cancer and detect it early. Other factors for the increase include the fact that Medicare expanded its coverage for colonoscopy screenings to a wider range of patients in 2001.
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