Public Cancer Screening Rates Decline
December 28, 2012

Cancer Screening Rates Decline Among General Public

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

A study from the University of Miami´s Miller School of Medicine has revealed that rates of cancer screenings in the U.S. have decreased over the past ten years.

According to the researchers, there is a wide range in the individuals who are choosing not to have preventive cancer screenings done. In particular, there are both white-collar and blue-collar employees who are part of this group who are declining screenings. The findings of the study were recently published in the journal Frontiers in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention.

"There is a great need for increased cancer prevention efforts in the U.S., especially for screening as it is considered one of the most important preventive behaviors and helps decrease the burden of this disease on society in terms of quality of life, the number of lives lost and insurance costs," explained the study´s lead author Tainya Clarke, a research associate at the University of Miami´s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, in a statement. "But despite this“¦ our research has shown that adherence rates for cancer screenings have generally declined with severe implications for the health outlook of our society."

In order to understand whether the targets of government-recommended screenings by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had been met, the team of investigators looked at the cancer screenings behaviors of cancer survivors and the general public. The types of cancers they evaluated included colorectal, cervical, breast and prostate cancers. They also compared the screening rates of those of the general public to cancer survivors, specifically evaluating the subpopulation of survivors who were employed. The group of investigators was able to pool data from the National Health Interview Survey that took place between 1997 and 2010. A total of 174,393 individuals were part of the study analysis, with 119,374 individuals signifying the general population while 7,528 individuals represented employed cancer survivors.

Based on the findings, the scientists determined that the goals of the government recommendations for cancer screenings had not been met for any types of cancer except colorectal cancer. The government´s “Healthy People 2010” disease prevention and national health promotion initiative set a goal of having 50 percent of the general public undergo colorectal screenings. The researchers found that the general public surpassed this goal, with approximately 54 percent having the colorectal cancer screenings done.

However, cancer survivors had higher screening rates and many participated in the recommended cancer screenings for all forms of cancer except for cervical cancer. The researchers saw that cancer survivors have a higher risk of developing the disease and had a higher rate of completing cancer screenings. Among the survivors, white-collar workers also displayed higher screenings rates than their blue-collar counterparts.

Overall, the researchers believe that this study is important as cancer is one of the leading chronic diseases and over 570,000 people died last year due to the disease. They also proposed that the decline in cancer screening rates might be due to the disagreements among the American Cancer Society, the United States Preventive Task Force and other groups. The researchers plan on conducting more comprehensive research on cancer screenings and looking at factors that could boost screenings in different occupations, as early intervention and treatment can help increase the number of cancer survivors.

“Early diagnosis is crucial, and it´s important we find out as much we can about the disease so that more lives can be saved,” commented Dr. Jane Cope, director of the National Cancer Research Institute in the United Kingdom, in a statement.