Colorectal Cancer: Screening Rates Up; New Cases and Mortality Down

A new federal report out yesterday may put some wind in the sails of those who work in the field of cancer prevention.  The July 5 issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows that rates of screening for colorectal cancer have been climbing steadily between 2002 and 2010, with a related drop in rates of new cases and mortality from the disease (report).  Over that eight year period, the percentage of people between ages 50 – 75 who got recommended screening tests rose from 52 percent to 65 percent.  Rates of new cases (incidence rate) and death from colorectal cancer over that period declined by three percent each year (see figure).

Unlike screening for some other cancers, screening for colon cancer can both find the disease early when its most treatable and prevent the disease by finding and removing pre-cancerous growths.  For more on screening and lowering the risk of colorectal cancer, visit Your Disease Risk (

The figure above shows declines in colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence from 59.5 per 100,000 population in 1975 to 44.7 in 2007 and in the CRC death rate from 28.6 per 100,000 population in 1976 to 16.7 in 2007 and the corresponding Healthy People 2020 targets of 38.6 per 100,000 and 14.5, respectively. Source CDC MMWR, July 5, 2011 (Fig 3)

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