Health Highlights: March 14, 2008

However, while rates of colorectal cancer screening increased among all racial and ethnic groups, minority groups continued to have lower screening rates than whites. In addition, rates continued to be lower among those with no health insurance, low income, and less than a high school education.

The findings are reported in the March 14 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Lack of awareness of the need for colorectal cancer screening, lack of doctor recommendations for screening, lack of health insurance, and lack of a usual source of health care are among the factors that may contribute to disparities in colorectal cancer screening rates, the study authors said.

Previous studies found that men were more likely than women to be checked for colorectal cancer, but data in this new study suggest a narrowing of that gender gap.

"While we are encouraged to see an increase in colorectal cancer screening rates, certain groups are still not getting screened as recommended," report lead author Dr. Djenaba A. Joseph, medical officer in the CDC's division of cancer prevention and control, said in a prepared statement. "We need to ensure that all adults have access to these life-saving tests because there is strong evidence that screening can prevent colorectal cancer deaths."

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. In 2004, nearly 145,000 people in the country were diagnosed with the disease and more than 53,000 died from it, the CDC said. Regular colorectal cancer screening is recommended for everyone age 50 and older.

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