Colon cancer screenings up, breast rate stalled

July 6, 2010 By MIKE STOBBE , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- More older Americans are getting tested for colon cancer, with nearly two out of three getting recommended screenings.

Meanwhile, rates for screening remain stuck on a higher plateau, according to a government report released Tuesday.

U.S. health officials estimate that at least 10,000 lives could be saved each year if more people got checked.

"We have further to go," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the .

The CDC report comes from a 2008 national telephone survey. About 200,000 people ages 50 to 75 answered questions about screening.

About 63 percent said they'd had a recommended test to look for colorectal cancer. That could include a home test kit that looks for blood in stool done in the past year, or a or sigmoidoscopy done within the last 10 years.

The 2008 result was up from 52 percent in 2002, a 21 percent increase.

Colonoscopies - considered the most discerning of those screening tests - are uncomfortable, expensive and often require taking a day off from work. So health officials say they are encouraged by the increase.

For breast cancer, the screening rates have been much higher. About 81 percent of 120,000 women surveyed said they'd had a mammogram in the previous two years, as experts recommend.

But there was no improvement. The rate is about the same as it's been since 2000.

Part of the reason may be lack of health insurance among some women, noted Elizabeth Ward, who oversees surveillance and health policy at the American Cancer Society.

"I don't think anybody knows for sure why it's been leveling off," she added.

More than 51,000 Americans are expected to die of colon cancer this year, while nearly 103,000 new cases will be detected, according to Cancer Society estimates. Cancers of the colon and rectum are together considered the second leading type of cancer deaths. Lung cancer kills more.

About 40,000 deaths are expected from breast cancer this year, with more than 209,000 new cases diagnosed.

Screening rates for both types of cancer were higher among people with more education and with insurance coverage. They also were generally highest in New England, the CDC report found.

Health officials are optimistic will improve, thanks to federal health reform measures expected to expand coverage and eliminate at least some insured patients' copays.

Explore further: US cancer deaths down but far too few Americans screened for colon cancer

More information: CDC report:


Related Stories

Black Americans are at higher risk for colon polyps

September 24, 2008

Black Americans have a higher occurrence of colon polyps, according to a new study. This is a significant finding considering the incidence of colon cancer among black men has increased and remained unchanged among black ...

US cancer death rate drops again in 2006

May 27, 2009

(AP) -- The U.S. cancer death rate fell again in 2006, a new analysis shows, continuing a slow downward trend that experts attribute to declines in smoking, earlier detection and better treatment.

Experts: Colon cancer deaths could make big drop

December 7, 2009

(AP) -- Colon cancer deaths could drop dramatically in the next decade because of better screening and treatment, according to an optimistic new prediction by top researchers.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.