Poor less likely to be screened for colon cancer

People who are poor, uninsured, born outside the U.S. or smokers are less likely to be adequately screened for Colorectal cancer, according to the results of a new survey of nearly 10,000 New Yorkers.

Based on the findings, the researchers estimate that nearly 1 million New Yorkers are at risk of developing Colorectal cancer that will not be detected by screening.

Approximately 50,000 Americans die every year from Colorectal cancer. Research shows that screening tests can reduce the death rates by finding abnormalities before they become cancerous.

Still, significantly fewer people get screened for colorectal cancer than for cervical or breast cancers, and in New York City, only one third of the people with colorectal cancer are diagnosed in the early stages of the disease.

Currently, experts in New York recommend that people 50 or older undergo colonoscopy every 10 years.

Dr. Lorna E. Thorpe of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and colleagues conducted a randomized telephone survey of 9,802 adults living in New York City, asking if they were ever screened for Colorectal cancer. The findings are published in the journal Cancer.

The investigators found that 55 percent of participants 50 years old or older had been screened recently, and 42 percent said they’d received a colonoscopy within the past 10 years.

However, some people were less likely to be adequately screening than others. For instance, people who were poor and Asians were less likely to be screened for colorectal cancer. Current smokers, non-exercisers, and people born outside of the U.S. were also less likely to report being screened for Colorectal cancer.

Non-Hispanic blacks and women were more likely to say they’d gotten checked for the disease with a fecal occult blood test, rather than a colonoscopy, which is considered the “preferred colorectal cancer screening test,” Thorpe and her team write.

“Screening tests for Colorectal cancer are highly effective for early cancer detection, which results in earlier stage diagnosis and reduced mortality,” Thorpe told.

“An increase in colorectal cancer screening rates to the levels seen for breast cancer and Cervical cancer screening would result in significant reductions in colorectal cancer incidence and mortality,” she added.

SOURCE: Cancer, September 1, 2005.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 11, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD