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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

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Screenings Cut Colon Cancer Death Rate

Screenings Credited With Helping Reduce Colon Cancer Incidence, Death Rates in Recent Years

Major Findings of Study continued...

Other major findings:

  • About 22 million people in the U.S. between 50 and 75 have never been screened for colorectal cancer. The CDC says this needs to change and that innovative programs could and should be developed to make screenings available, affordable, and routine for all adults between 50 and 75. Also, screenings should be promoted more by doctors.
  • About 50% of the improvement in mortality can be attributed to increased screening, 35% to reductions in risk factors such as smoking and obesity, and 12% can be attributed to improvement treatments.

Despite growing evidence that screening procedures can save lives, not enough Americans are getting screened, the CDC says. Frieden says the “largest risk factor for not being screened is doctors not recommending that patients be screened.”

Findings were published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for July 5, 2011.

The CDC says if the Healthy People 2020 target for colorectal screening to 70.5% is met, about 1,000 additional deaths per year can be avoided.

Doctors Need to Promote Screening Procedures

But for many people, more action is needed, the CDC says. More than a third of respondents to federal surveys said they were not up to date with screenings. And one reason, the CDC says, may be that doctors don’t recommend the procedures enough.

CDC says that:

  • The Affordable Care Act will reduce financial barriers to screenings by expanding insurance coverage and eliminating co-payments and deductibles.
  • Federal, state, and local public health departments can work with health centers to implement ways to remind doctors and patients about the importance of colorectal screening.
  • The CDC Colorectal Cancer Control Program funds 25 states and four tribal organizations for the use of population-based approaches to increase screening among men and women aged 50 and older. These approaches include case management and outreach.

The CDC report cites a survey of U.S. and Canada residents found that 31% of people in the United States say they would opt not to be screened for colorectal cancer even when their preferred method of screening was offered.

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