Screening for cancer missing the mark

January 27, 2012|By Meredith Cohn

The percentage of Americans screened for cancer isn't meeting national targets, and the numbers are even worse for minorities, according the first federal study looking at disparities among Asiand and Hispanic groups.

The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute showed breast cancer screening rates were 72.4 percent, below the 81 percent target set in a national health plan called Healthy People 2020.  It was 83 percent for cervical cancer, missing the 93p ercent mark, and colorectal screening was 58.6 percent, missing hte 70.5 percent target.

For Asians they were 64.1 percent for breast cancer, 75.4 percent for cervical cancer and 46.9 percent for colorectal cancer. For Hispanics, they were 78.7 percent for cervical cancer and 46.5 percent for colorectal cancer.

“It is troubling to see that not all Americans are getting the recommended cancer screenings and that disparities continue to persist for certain populations. Screening can find breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers at an early stage when treatment is more effective,” Dr. Sallyann Coleman King, an epidemic intelligence service officer in CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and lead author of the study, said in a statement. “We must continue to monitor cancer screening rates to improve the health of all Americans.”

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a national advisory board, recommends women aged 50-74 have a mammogram every two years. Sexually active women or those aged 21-65 should be screened for cervical cancer with a pap test every three years. Men and women aged 50-75 should have a colorectoral screening with a blood test every year or a signoidoscopy every five years or a colonoscopy every 10 years.

Screenings, not surprisingly, were lower among those without health insurance.

For more information about cancer, go to or, or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.

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