Cancer screenings in the United States are falling below recommended targets, with significant disparities being reported among racial and ethnic populations, according to a joint study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute.
The federal study, the first of its kind that seeks to identify cancer screening differences among Hispanic and Asian groups, found that screenings for those particular groups fell even further below national averages in 2010 when compared to the rest of the population.
For example, in 2010 breast cancer screening rates for all groups was 72.4 percent, which was below the so-called Healthy People 2020 target of 81 percent. Cervical screenings, meanwhile, were 83 percent, while the target was 93 percent, and colorectal cancer screenings were nearly 59 percent, which was off the target rate of 70.5 percent.
The screening rates, however, were much lower for all three cancers among Asians and Hispanics – as much as 8 percent to 24 percent, depending on the category.
“It is troubling to see that not all Americans are getting the recommended cancer screenings and that disparities continue to persist for certain populations,” said Sallyann Coleman King of the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.
“Screening can find breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers at an early stage when treatment is more effective,” added King, the lead author of the study, “Cancer Screening in the United States – 2010.”
The Healthy People targets were created by the federal government on a 10-year cycle to help establish benchmarks for measuring and improving the health of all Americans. Carrie Klabunde, an epidemiologist at the cancer institute, said the targets are an important monitoring mechanism aimed at reducing cancer deaths.
“Our study points to the particular need for finding ways to increase the use of breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening tests among Asians, Hispanics, as well as adults who lack health insurance or a usual source of healthcare,” added Klabunde, who was also a co-author of the study.