Cancer screening rates decreased over past 10 years, study finds

A University of Miami Miller School of Medicine study has identified a decrease over the last 10 years in patient likelihood to seek preventative cancer screenings — a troubling find for scientists given that cancer claimed the lives of 570,000 people in the United States just last year alone.  

"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. 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." said lead author Tainya Clarke, MPH, research associate in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, in a news release.

Researchers investigated the cancer screening behaviors of the general populace as well as cancer survivors to confirm whether goals set by the government were met. Approximately 174, 393 participants were involved in total, 7,528 of which were employed cancer survivors and 119,374 were used to represent the general public. Cancer screening rates for colorectal, breast, cervical and prostate cancer were examined extensively.

Clarke and her team found that “about 54 percent of the general public underwent colorectal screenings, exceeding the 50 percent goal of the government's "Healthy People 2010" national health promotion and disease prevention initiative.”

Conversely “cancer survivors, who are at an increased risk of developing the disease, had higher screening rates and underwent the recommended cancer screenings for all types except cervical cancer, which decreased to 78 percent over the last decade.”

Significant variations between white-collar and blue-collar workers were discovered by the research team as well. White-collar workers were shown to have higher cancer screening propensity than blue-collar employees. The study cohort hopes that such findings will prompt necessary changes in job-related policies so that screening disparities may be corrected.

The report was published in the journal Frontiers in Cancer Epidemiology