Colon Cancer Screening: Between 2002 and 2008, the percentage of those 50 to 75 years old who reported having either colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy within the preceding 10 years or a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) within the past year increased from 52% to 63%. The biggest increase was seen in the use of colonoscopy. Nevertheless, about 37%, or 22 million, Americans 50 to 75 years old did not have one of these colon cancer screening tests. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, killing more than 53,000 U.S. residents each year. The CDC noted that if every adult 50 or older got tested regularly, at least 6 of every 10 deaths from this cancer could be prevented.
Breast Cancer Screening: Use of mammograms for early detection of breast cancer appears to have plateaued. Overall, 81.1% of the women surveyed in 2008 were up to date in getting a mammogram, but the rate was no greater than the rate of 81.5% in 2006. About one in five, or 7 million, women age 50 to 75 years old did not have a mammogram in the past two years. Breast cancer remains the second leading cause of death in U.S. women and one of every eight finds she has breast cancer in her lifetime. In 2006, more than 190,000 women learned they had breast cancer and more than 41,000 women died of the disease. The CDC estimates that for every 5% increase in breast cancer screening, 560 lives could be saved.
To make more progress, the CDC says more Americans need to understand how helpful colon and breast cancer screening is. If lack of health insurance is an issue, there are low-cost or free mammograms available. To find out more about these, call your local health department or 1-800-CDC-INFO or see the CDC's list. In addition, automated communication systems (via mail, phone or e-mail) might be used to remind patients when it is time to schedule screening tests. Health care providers should also routinely advise patients of their need for a timely colon and/or breast cancer screening test.
- For information on recommended testing, see the screening articles on Colon Cancer and Breast Cancer Screening Tests for Adults and Adults 50 and Up.
- Get E-mailed Reminders: Sign up at MyHealthTestReminder.com, the web site provided by the College of American Pathologists, to get e-mailed reminders for your screening tests.
On this site
Conditions: Colon Cancer, Breast Cancer
Screening: Colorectal Cancer - Adults; Older Adults; Breast Cancer – Adults; Older Adults
Elsewhere on the web
College of American Pathologists: MyHealthTestReminder.com
NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital Signs: Breast Cancer Screening Among Women Aged 50–74 Years—United States, 2008. Published July 9, 2010. Available online at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5926a4.htm?s_cid=mm5926a4 through http://www.cdc.gov. Accessed July 11, 2010.