Colorectal cancer screening still underused

Research Activities, March 2010, No. 355

Despite national recommendations supporting screening for colorectal cancer (CRC)—a disease that kills an estimated 50,000 Americans a year—screening is still underused. Screening is particularly underused by low-income people, the uninsured, Asians and Hispanics, foreign-born people, and/or those with limited English-language skills, according to a new Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) evidence report. After reviewing evidence on CRC screening, researchers at the RTI-University of North Carolina Evidence-Based Practice Center found some increase in screening using colonoscopy, but decreasing rates of screening by sigmoidoscopy and fecal occult blood testing.

The reviewers also looked for evidence on strategies for encouraging CRC screening. They found that some, such as contacting people to remind them to get screened, boosted screening rates. Other strategies, including using printed matter and video messages, either did not increase rates or produced mixed results. However, it is not clear that any specific set of interventions will increase screening rates nationally. The reviewers found no studies of how CRC screening has been effectively monitored, nor did they find any that systematically measured its quality.

For details, go to Enhancing the Use and Quality of Colorectal Cancer Screening.

Page last reviewed March 2010
Internet Citation: Colorectal cancer screening still underused: Research Activities, March 2010, No. 355. March 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.