Screening Rates Creep Up . . . But Leave Many Behind

Overall, colorectal cancer screening rates were higher in 2008 than in 2006.

By 2008 almost 2 of every 3 Americans over the age of 50 had either had a fecal occult blood test in the past year or sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy within the past ten years.

Health insurance made a huge different with two-thirds (66.6 percent) of people with insurance up-to-date with screening compared to about one-third (37.5 percent) of those without health insurance.

From 2002 through 2008, screening rates for people with health insurance went up almost 11 percentage points, while rates for the uninsured went up less than 5 percent.

Rates also lagged for the poor, for those without a high school education, and Hispanics.

States with the highest rates included New Hampshire, Utah, and Connecticut while Mississippi, Louisiana, and New Mexico had the lowest.

People who were 65 and older were much more likely to have been screened than younger adults — 72.8 percent compared to 58.2 percent for those from 50 to 64.

Overall screening rates were:

  • 53.8 percent in 2002
  • 60.7 percent in 2006
  • 64.2 percent in 2008

Information for the Centers for Disease Control analysis comes from the 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) surveys.  The BRFSS surveys come from randomly dialed telephone calls to people in the United States over the age of 15.  About half of calls made reached someone, and three out of four of those reached were willing to answer the survey questions.  In 2008, 250,000 people were surveyed.

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, January 14, 2011

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