Evaluating trends in colorectal cancer (CRC) screening use is critical for understanding screening implementation, and whether population groups targeted for screening are receiving it, consistent with guidelines. This study examines recent national trends in CRC test use, including among vulnerable populations.
We used the 2000, 2003, 2005, and 2008 National Health Interview Survey to examine national trends in CRC screening use overall and for FOBT, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy. We also assessed trends by race/ethnicity, educational attainment, income, time in the U.S., and access to health care.
During 2000–2008, significant declines in FOBT and sigmoidoscopy use and significant increases in colonoscopy use and in the percentages of adults up-to-date with CRC screening occurred overall and for most population subgroups. Subgroups with consistently lower rates of colonoscopy use and being up-to-date included Hispanics; people with minimal education, low income, or no health insurance; recent immigrants; and those with no usual source of care or physician visits in the past year. Among up-to-date adults, there were few subgroup differences in the type of test by which they were up-to-date (i.e., FOBT, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy).
Although use of CRC screening and of colonoscopy increased among U.S. adults, including those from vulnerable populations, 45% of adults aged 50–75—or nearly 35 million people—were not up-to-date with screening in 2008.
Continued monitoring of CRC screening rates among population subgroups with consistently low utilization is imperative. Improvement in CRC screening rates among all population groups in the U.S. is still needed.