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Colorectal Cancer Screening for Most, But Not All, Americans

AHRQ News and Numbers, March 23, 2011

AHRQ News and Numbers provides statistical highlights on the use and cost of health services and health insurance in the United States.

Screening for colorectal cancer improved among White, Black, and Asian-Americans age 50 and over between 2000 and 2008, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

However, screening of Hispanics, who have the third-highest death rate from colorectal cancer, barely improved, while the rate for American Indians and Alaska Natives, who have the fifth-highest colorectal cancer death rate, fell.

The Federal agency also found that:

  • As a whole, roughly 60 percent of Whites and 55 percent of Blacks age 50 and over reported in 2008 ever having been screened for colorectal cancer, compared with 51 percent, and 44 percent, respectively, in 2000. The rates for Asian-Americans overall in both 2000 and 2008 were roughly equal to those for Blacks.
  • During the same period, the overall proportion of Hispanics the same age who reported ever having being screened for colorectal cancer increased from just 35 percent to around 44 percent.
  • The proportion of American Indians and Alaska Natives as a whole who reported ever being screened for colorectal cancer fell from about 49 percent in 2000 to roughly 37 percent in 2008.
  • Among those Whites and Blacks who had no health insurance, colorectal cancer screening rates for both groups inched up from around 26 percent to about 30 percent.
  • But among Hispanics with no health insurance, the colorectal cancer screening rate fell from a low of 16 percent to an even lower 13 percent.

Cancer kills nearly 600,000 Americans a year. Screening is important because early stages of colorectal cancer may not present symptoms and the tests can detect abnormal growths before they turn into cancer.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on information in the 2010 , which examines the disparities in Americans' access to and quality of health care, with breakdowns by race, ethnicity, income, and education.

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. AHRQ has information on colon cancer and other important health care screenings. For men, go to, and for women, go to

Page last reviewed March 2011
Internet Citation: Colorectal Cancer Screening for Most, But Not All, Americans: AHRQ News and Numbers, March 23, 2011. March 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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