Some 23 million Americans, or one in three adults, have not been tested for colorectal cancer that could detect early stages of colon cancer.
A Vital Signs report issued by the Centers for Disease Control Tuesday noted that while 62 percent of Americans are getting colonoscopy screenings, the most common test for colon cancer, only 10 percent were getting the fecal occult blood test and less than one percent did the signmoidoscopy screening, according to a American College of Gastroenterology news release
"As a nation, we can do better in screening eligible patients for colorectal cancer," said Harry E. Sarles, Jr. president of the American College of Gastroenterology. "When detected early, polyps can be removed, preventing the development of colorectal cancer. That is what makes colonoscopy such a powerful prevention strategy."
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A colonoscopy can detect and remove pre-cancerous lesions, while providing other benefits such as polyp removal, breaking the sequence from polyp to cancer, and reducing the number of deaths from colorectal cancer, stated the news release.
People who have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps should get tests done more often, Centers for Disease Control director Dr. Tom Frieden told CBS News.
"Colonoscopy is clearly preferred for high-risk people," Frieden said to CBS News. "But for others, there's not a huge difference."
Frieden told CBS News that the fecal occult blood test may be cheaper for many residents but added that it should be taken every year, while a more expensive colonoscopy may not have to be taken for up to 10 years. Frieden noted that the removal of polyps before they become cancers has been effective for many tested.
Frieden told CBS News that more than 50,000 people will annually from colorectal cancer, the deadliest cancers for nonsmokers.
About 90 percent of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer live for five years or more when it is detected early through testing, Frieden told CBS News.
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The CDC Vital Signs report said that most health care providers are not set up to assist more people to get tested. The report said most people don't know they need to be tested and rely on their doctors to recommend the test to them.
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