Many Americans not getting recommended cancer screenings

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although the number of Americans being screened for colon and breast cancer has risen, some adults are still not getting recommended breast and colorectal cancer screenings.

Adults aged over 50 years are considered to be up-to-date with their colon cancer screening if they had a fecal occult blood test within the past year or lower endoscopy (including colonoscopy) within 10 years. Screening for breast cancer is considered up to date for women aged 50--74 years who have had a mammogram in the past 2 years.

Key findings from a CDC report:

  • 22 million adults over age 50 have not been screened for colorectal cancer
  • Screening for colon cancer has risen from 38% in 2000 to 53% in 2008.
  • The lowest prevalence of screenings were for respondents aged 50 – 59; Hispanics, and people those without health insurance
  • 7 million women have not had a recent mammogram to screen for breast cancer
  • Mammography screening increased from 77.5% in 1997 to 81.1% in 2008
  • In recent years, mammography screening rates have plateaued
  • The lowest prevalence of screenings were for those aged 50 -59, American Indian and Alaska natives, and those without health insurance

(Sources: Centers for Disease Control,, July 6, 2010; AHA News Now,, July 6, 2010)