Many adults missing cancer screenings

Cancer screenings 2015May 19, 2015—Americans aren’t as up-to-date with cancer screenings as they should be, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Regular screenings for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers can catch cancers early, when treatment is likely to work best. This lack of screening means that individuals aren’t getting tests that can save lives. The trends also point to problems in reaching the government’s Healthy People 2020 goals for cancer screening.

The report

Researchers looked at data from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey, which is used to monitor progress toward health screening goals.

The analysis showed that, in comparison to previous years, screening levels for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers either fell behind or showed no improvement. Here’s a look at the numbers:

Breast cancer:

  • The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women ages 50 to 74 have a mammogram every 2 years.
  • Healthy People 2020 screening goal: 81.1 percent.
  • Current screening levels: 72.6 percent.
  • Areas of concern: Mammogram rates were lower for women age 50 to 64 than age 65 to 74. They were also lower for Hispanic women, women without insurance and women without a usual source of healthcare.

Cervical cancer:

  • The USPSTF recommends that women ages 21 to 65 receive a Pap test at least every 3 years, unless they’ve had a hysterectomy.
  • Healthy People 2020 screening goal: 93 percent.
  • Current screening levels: 80.7.
  • Areas of concern: Pap test use was lower for Asian women, Hispanic women, women ages 51 to 65 and foreign-born women. Women who were uninsured or publicly insured were less likely to get the test than women with private insurance.

Colorectal cancer:

  • The USPSTF recommends that people ages 50 to 75 choose 1 of the following options:
    • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every year.
    • Sigmoidoscopy every 5 years and FOBT every 3 years.
    • Colonoscopy every 10 years.
  • Healthy People 2020 screening goal: 70.5 percent.
  • Current screening levels: 58.2 percent.
  • Areas of concern: Test use was lower among Asian and Hispanic people, except Puerto Ricans. Testing was also lower among people aged 50 to 64 compared to those 65 to 75. Test use was slightly lower among men. People without a usual source of care or insurance had a particularly low test rate.

Overall, the data showed no progress toward the screening goals for 2020. In order to reach these targets, researchers encouraged higher efforts to reduce barriers—such as finances and lack of insurance—that keep people from screening. They also suggested that making the public more aware of screening options could help improve these trends.

Find more details on these trends in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The take-home message
Cancer screening could save your life. Regular testing may help detect breast, cervical and colorectal cancers early. Treatment at these early stages tends to be most successful.

Make regular screening a priority. Learn about screening options and recommendations for:

Talk to your doctor about what screenings are right for you.

 

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