COLORECTAL CANCER: Study Notes Need for Better Screening
Less than half of seniors are regularly tested for colorectal cancer, despite the fact that proper screening could cut deaths from colorectal cancer -- the nation's second deadliest type -- by up to one third. Though the CDC recommends that Americans age 50 and older receive an easy annual take-home test for blood in the stool and a colon exam every five years -- both are covered by Medicare and increasingly by insurance policies -- a 1997 survey of 52,754 people age 50 and older showed that just 30% had received the colon exam within the last five years and just 20% had received the stool test within the last year. "It's just not a subject people are comfortable speaking about, so patients aren't bringing it up to their physicians and physicians aren't talking about it either," said Dr. Laura Seeff of the CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 2/19).
To boost screening rates, the CDC will launch a public awareness campaign aimed at both patients and providers. "Public health officials, health care providers and commercial health plans need to intensify efforts to increase awareness of the effectiveness of screening and to promote the widespread use of colorectal cancer screening tests," the CDC writes in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2/19 issue).