Journal Articles

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Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention


BACKGROUND: In May 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force began recommending initiating colorectal cancer screening at age 45 (vs. 50) years.

METHODS: We estimated prevalence of colorectal cancer screening (by colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, CT colonography, or stool-based tests) in adults ages 50 to 75 years using data from the National Health Interview Survey in 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2015, and 2018. For each survey year, we estimated prevalence by age, race/ethnicity, educational attainment, family income, and health insurance. We also compared increases in prevalence of screening from 2000 to 2018 in 5-year age groups (50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, and 70-75 years).

RESULTS: Overall, prevalence of colorectal cancer screening increased from 36.7% in 2000 to 66.1% in 2018. Screening prevalence in 2018 was lowest for age 50 to 54 years (47.6%), Hispanics (56.5%), Asians (57.1%), and participants with less than a high school degree (53.6%), from low-income families (56.6%), or without insurance (39.7%). Increases in prevalence over time differed by five-year age group. For example, prevalence increased from 28.2% in 2000 to 47.6% in 2018 (+19.4%; 95% CI, 13.1-25.6) for age 50 to 54 years but from 46.4% to 78.0% (+31.6%; 95% CI, 25.4%-37.7%) for age 70 to 75 years. This pattern was consistent across race/ethnicity, educational attainment, family income, and health insurance.

CONCLUSIONS: Prevalence of colorectal cancer screening remains low in adults ages 50 to 54 years.

IMPACT: As new guidelines are implemented, care must be taken to ensure screening benefits are realized equally by all population groups, particularly newly eligible adults ages 45 to 49 years. See related commentary by Brawley, p. 1671.


Adult, Aged, Colonoscopy, Colorectal Neoplasms, Early Detection of Cancer, Humans, Mass Screening, Middle Aged, Occult Blood, Sigmoidoscopy, United States

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