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Variation in Colorectal Screening Rates in the United Rates

By: Joseph Fanelli
Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2018

Colorectal cancer screening rates in the United States are far behind the goals outlined by prominent cancer research organizations, according to data published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The research article, authored by Zahava Berkowitz, MSPH, MSc, of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and colleagues, outlined wide variations in screening rates between state- and county-modeled estimates.

“We anticipated county variations of [colorectal cancer] screening rates within the states because we know there are differences between urban and rural areas in adherence to screening recommendations,” Mr. Berkowitz said in a statement. “However, we were struck by differences of more than 20 percentage points among counties in some states.”

To test local screening rates, researchers used county data from the CDC’s 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, compiling information from 251,360 respondents. The results showed that 67.3% of adults were up to date with colorectal cancer screening. They also found a 40% difference in the estimated screening rates between the highest- and lowest-ranking counties. Model-based state estimates identified Massachusetts as having the highest prevalence (75.0%) and Wyoming, the lowest (58.9%). Model-based county estimates indicated Florida had the highest prevalence (79.8%) and Alaska, the lowest (40.1%).

The CDC, the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, and the American Cancer Society all support a goal of screening 80% of adults 50 years of age and older for colorectal cancer by 2018.


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