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News » Filed under: Colon/Rectum Cancer

More Screenings Lead to Decreases in Colorectal Cancer Deaths

Article date: July 7, 2011

By Stacy Simon

Two new reports, one led by American Cancer Society researchers and one released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), show that more Americans are getting recommended colorectal screenings, and that’s leading to a lower rate of new cases of colorectal cancer and fewer deaths. However, screening rates are not improving as quickly in some parts of the country as they are in others.

The CDC report, published online in the July 2011 issue of Vital Signs, says colorectal cancer screening among people ages 50 to 75 years increased from 52% in 2002 to 65% in 2010. The number of new cases of colorectal cancer fell by 66,000 between 2003 and 2007, and the number of deaths fell by 32,000. But those numbers could still be improved, because 1 in 3 Americans are still not up to date with their recommended colorectal screenings. The report found the largest declines in colorectal cancer death rates in states with some of the highest screening rates.

According to the American Cancer Society-led study, published in the July 2011 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, death rates for colorectal cancer decreased by 3% per year from 2003 to 2007, compared with less than 2% per year before that time. But in general, northeastern states showed higher rates of colorectal screening and larger decreases in colorectal cancer death rates, while the reverse was true for southern states.

All states showed significant decreases in deaths from colorectal cancer between 1990 and 2007 except for Mississippi. Several states in the Northeast, as well as Alaska, all had decreases greater than 30%.

The researchers say several factors could be contributing to the disparities between northern and southern states. For instance, southern states have more poor and uninsured residents, and people without insurance are less likely to get screened and may not be able to get adequate treatment. In 2007, 18.8% of the population in Mississippi was uninsured, compared with 5.4% in Massachusetts. There are also differences in risk factors, including obesity and smoking, which tend to be much higher in southern states.

Screening for colorectal cancer can often find abnormal growths, called polyps, so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening can also find cancer early when it’s easier to treat. The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should begin screening at age 50 with any one of several different tests. Those with increased or high risk should begin screening earlier. See our complete recommendations for who should be screened at what age, and how to figure out whether you’re at average or high risk.

Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff


ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.

Citations: Colorectal Cancer. Published in the July 2011 issue of Vital Signs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta Georgia.

State Disparities in Colorectal Cancer Mortality Patterns in the United States. Published in the July 2011 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (Vol. 20, No. 7). First author: Ahmedin Jemal, American Cancer Society, Atlanta Georgia.

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