New CDC Vital Signs: Colorectal cancer testing needs to increase among adults

photo courtesy of the CDC
Friday, November 8, 2013 - 11:21am

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer among men and women in the United States, after lung cancer. About 1 in 3 adults is not getting screened for colorectal cancer as recommended by the U.S. Preventive services Task Force (USPSTF), according to a new Vital Signs report: Colorectal Cancer Screening Test Use - 2012, released today.

Colorectal cancer screening saves lives, but only if people get tested. Adults aged 50 to 75 years should get tested with one or a combination of these screening tests:

  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) done at home every year,
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy, done every five years, with FOBT/FIT done every three years,
  • Colonoscopy done every 10 years.

Colorectal cancer screening can increase if doctors, nurses, and health systems:

  • Offer all recommended tests options with advice about each test.
  • Match patients with the test they are most likely to complete.
  • Work with public health officials to get more people tested using patient navigators to help people through procedures like colonoscopy.
  • Make it easier for people to get FOBT/ FIT kits in places other than a doctor’s office, like giving them out at flu shot clinics or mailing them to their homes.

People can learn more about colorectal cancer screening at CDC's colorectal cancer screening website. They can speak with their health care provider about the testing options and get the test that they prefer. Through the Affordable Care Act, more Americans will have access to health coverage and preventive services like colorectal cancer screening tests. The tests will be available at no cost. Visit Healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY/TDD 1-855-889-4325) to learn more. Open enrollment in the Marketplace began October 1 and ends March 31, 2014. For those enrolled by December 15, 2013, coverage starts as early as January 1, 2014.

CDC provides funding to 25 states and 4 tribes across the United States for five years to increase colorectal cancer screening rates among men and women aged 50 years and older through organized screening methods. Contact a local health department to find out about a colorectal cancer screening near you.

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