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Home > This Just In > CDC: Cancer-Screening Rates Fall Short of Goals

CDC: Cancer-Screening Rates Fall Short of Goals

U.S. cancer-screening rates are falling short of the government’s targets.

According to new stats out today from the CDC, not enough people are following the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s recommendations for getting regular breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening tests. And the picture looks even worse when you look at specific racial and ethnic groups, namely Asians and Hispanics.

Keep in mind that the USPSTF’s recommendations are generally more conservative than those from other organizations. So, for example, these stats look at how many women aged 50 to 74 years get a mammogram every two years — even though other groups recommend starting screening earlier and screening every year.

The new figures, which are published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, show that the breast-cancer screening rate was 72.4% in 2010, short of the government’s Healthy People 2020 target of 81.1%. The cervical-cancer screening rate was 83%, compared to the target of 93%, and the colorectal-cancer screening rate was 58.6%, short of the 70.5% goal.

Screening for all three diseases was more common among whites and blacks than Asians. Only 64.1% of Asian women had their recommended mammogram, for example, compared to 72.8% of whites, 73.2% of blacks and 69.7% of Hispanics.

The report says that breast-cancer screening rates held pretty steady over time, while cervical-cancer screening rates showed “a slight downward trend” and colorectal-cancer rates “increased markedly.”

Wondering why the prostate-cancer screening rate wasn’t reported? Well, there’s controversy over whether screening for that disease should be done at all. The USPSTF’s draft recommendations on that topic, out last October, advised against the use of PSA tests for screening purposes, saying the benefits don’t outweigh the harms.

Plenty of other groups recommend a man and his physician at least discuss the pros and cons of getting the test.