THURSDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly black and Hispanic Americans are less likely than whites to get colorectal cancer screening, even though Medicare has expanded coverage for screening tests such as colonoscopy and fecal occult blood test, a new study has found.

Researchers examined U.S. National Cancer Institute data between 1996 and 2005 to determine rates of colorectal cancer screening among Medicare beneficiaries aged 70 to 89 with no history of any cancer.

Blacks were less likely than whites to receive colorectal cancer screening before and after Medicare provided coverage of fecal occult blood test, and after coverage of colonoscopy, according to the University of Texas School of Public Health study.

The investigators also found that Hispanics were less likely than whites to receive colorectal cancer screening after Medicare provided coverage of colonoscopy.

The study is published in the current issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

"Colorectal cancer screening increased as Medicare coverage expanded. However, screening rates were still low according to recommendations," study author Aricia White, an epidemic service officer at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research.

"More efforts need to be made to increase colorectal cancer screening among all [Medicare] beneficiaries," she added.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about colorectal cancer screening.