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CDC: More Cancer Screenings Needed to Save Lives

Colon Cancer Screenings and Mammograms on the Rise, but There's Room for Improvement
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'Katie Couric Effect' continued...

Couric, a CBS News anchorwoman, underwent a colonoscopy on live television in March 2000. She became a strong advocate for screening after her husband, then 42-year-old lawyer Jay Monahan, died of the disease in 1998.

After she had the televised procedure, "we had a bump in screening and that has continued to rise," Frieden said. "Public education, such as Katie Couric did, can have a major role."

The new report also says that for colorectal cancer screening:

  • Insured adults had higher screening rates than the uninsured, 66% to 36%.
  • Highest screening prevalence was found in the Northeast, at 74% in Maine, Delaware, and Massachusetts.
  • The lowest prevalence occurred in the central and Western regions in Oklahoma (53%), Arkansas (53%), and Idaho (54%).
  • Lowest screening prevalence was among the uninsured, 36%.
  • People with a low income and those with less than a high school education had lower prevalence of screening (48%, 46%).

The report also breaks down the most recent data for breast cancer screening:

  • 81% of women 50-74 said they had had a mammogram within the past two years.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native women had the lowest prevalence for mammography screening at 70%.
  • Women with less than a high school education and women with low income had lower prevalence of screening.
  • Nevada and Mississippi, at 72%, had the lowest mammography screening prevalence, with Idaho slightly better at 73%.
  • Insured women had a 28% higher screening prevalence than uninsured women, 84% vs. 56%. Among women with health insurance, 16% were not up-to-date with mammograms.

Other findings include:

  • Doctors' recommendations for screenings are an important but underused motivator.
  • The health care reform bill is likely to reduce financial barriers to screening by eliminating cost sharing and expanding insurance coverage.
  • In 2006, more than 139,000 new cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed and more than 53,000 people died from the disease.
  • In 2006, more than 191,000 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and more than 40,000 died from the disease. 

With reporting from WebMD Senior Writer Daniel DeNoon.

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