THURSDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The number of Americans
being screened for colon, breast and cervical cancers still fall
below national targets, federal health officials said Thursday.
In 2010, 72.4 percent of women were being screened for breast
cancer, below the target of 81 percent, for cervical cancer it was
83 percent of women, while the target is 93 percent, and for colon
cancer 58.6 percent of Americans were screened, missing the target
of 70.5 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
"Not all Americans are getting the recommended screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer," said report co-author Mary C. White, branch chief of the CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. "There continue to be disparities for certain populations."
The screening rates are particularly low among Asians and
Hispanics, according to the report in the Jan. 27 issue of
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Among Asians, the screening rate for breast cancer was 64.1
percent, for cervical cancer it was 75.4 percent, and for colon
cancer it was 46.9 percent.
Hispanics were less likely than non-Hispanics to have screening
for cervical and colon cancer (78.7 percent and 46.5 percent,
respectively), the researchers found.
Screening is important, said Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of
surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
"Screening saves lives," she said. "When you catch a cancer at a smaller size it does affect outcome."
Some people may be confused about screening, because different
medical groups have different screening protocols, Bernik said.
"It's hard to get people to do screening in general. People look for any excuse not to get screened. When they see there is a controversy about when to start screening, they look at it as an opportunity to not do the test," she said.
Bernik also admits that screening can result in some
"With screening comes that risk," she said. "Unfortunately, we are not at a point where we can select the patients that are not going to have a problem, so we treat everyone equally. So, there is a little bit of over-treatment but, overall, you are improving survival for many people."
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women
aged 50 to 74 get a mammogram every two years to screen for breast
Women aged 21 to 65, or those who have been sexually active for
three years, should have a Pap test to screen for cervical cancer
at least every three years, the task force recommends.
For colorectal cancer, men and women aged 50 to 75 should be
screened with a yearly fecal occult blood test or sigmoidoscopy
every five years, or have a colonoscopy every 10 years.
Other highlights of the report include:
The Affordable Care Act is expected to lower these barriers to
access by expanding insurance coverage, the authors said.
"Other efforts are needed, such as developing systems that identify persons eligible for cancer screening tests, actively encouraging the use of screening tests, and monitoring participation to improve screening rates," the authors added.
For more on cancer screening, visit the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
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