Results from a nationwide research poll released by the Colon Cancer Alliance and Quest Diagnostics show that 31% of men and women age 50 years and over have never been screened for colon cancer by standard screening methods such as a colonoscopy, fecal occult blood tests (FOBT), and fecal immunochemical tests (FIT). The poll also shows that among men and women age 50 and older who have not been screened for colon cancer, 28% said their health care provider, such as a doctor or nurse, did not recommend they be screened.

Among those age 50 and older who have not been screened for colon cancer, the top reasons they were not screened were (respondents were asked to select options that applied): 28%, healthcare provider, such a doctor or nurse, didn’t recommend I get screened; 18%, too busy or time constraints; 16%, fear; 16%, didn’t know I needed to be screened; 15%, can’t afford the health insurance copayment; 10%, no insurance; and 9%, modesty or embarrassment.

The Colon Cancer Alliance and Quest Diagnostics’ survey supports earlier research that a large percentage of men and women age 50 and older are not adhering to the screening guidelines. In addition, among the 69% who reported in the survey that they have been screened for colon cancer, 87% said they have been screened with a colonoscopy.

"Our survey suggests that while more men and women of screening age are being tested than in the past, a significant screening gap remains," said Andrew Spiegel, CEO of the Colon Cancer Alliance. "Health care professionals have a tremendous opportunity to educate patients about screening options."

DNA blood tests for aiding the detection of colon cancer have recently been introduced in the U.S., although they have yet to be reviewed for inclusion in medical guidelines. When respondents were polled on their attitudes about a blood test, 78% said they were likely to take a blood test for colon cancer screening compared to 18% who said they were unlikely to take a blood test and 4% who didn’t know. Three out of four people said they were more likely to get screened more frequently for colon cancer if a blood test were available.

"With technological advances, physicians and patients have a range of options to choose from for colon cancer screening, from colonoscopy to FITs. But as options increase, so does the risk that patients will be confused about how, when and under which circumstances to be screened," said Jon R. Cohen, senior VP and chief medical officer, Quest Diagnostics. "It is vital that physicians engage their patients in a dialogue about their options and help them resolve the fears or misinformation that prevents testing."

Source: Press release