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Fifty Percent of Americans Age 50 and Older Have Never Had a Colonoscopy

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: December 7, 2007

Only half of all Americans age 50 and over have had a colonoscopy, one of several common screening tests for colon cancer, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all people age 50 and over be screened for colon cancer—the second leading cause of cancer deaths.

An AHRQ survey reports the following about screening colonoscopy among Americans ages 50 and older:

  • Nearly 67 percent of Hispanics age 50 and older reported that they have never had a screening colonoscopy. This compares to 47.1 percent of Whites and 55.8 percent of Blacks.
  • More than three-fourths (77 percent) of uninsured adults between the ages of 50 and 64 reported that they have never had a screening colonoscopy compared to people with private insurance (54.1 percent) or people covered by Medicaid and other public coverage (61 percent).
  • Among people age 65 and older, slightly more than half of people who had Medicare plus some other public insurance reported never having had a screening colonoscopy; 45 percent of people who only had Medicare coverage and 34.6 percent of people who had Medicare plus some private insurance reported never having had a screening colonoscopy.

AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to enhance the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care in the United States. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid.

For more information, go to Screening Colonoscopy among the U.S. Noninstitutionalized Adult Population Age 50 and Older, 2005.

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

Current as of December 2007


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


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