Rates of screening for colorectal, breast, and cervical cancers in 2013 declined from previous rates or showed no improvement, according to a study that was published in the May 8 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 


Among adults in the age groups recommended for screening, about one in five women reported not being up-to-date with cervical cancer screening, about one in four women reported not being up-to-date with breast cancer screening, and about two in five adults reported not being up-to-date with colorectal cancer screening.


The researchers also found that colorectal cancer testing was essentially unchanged in 2013, compared with the rate in 2010. Pap test use in women aged 21 to 65 years was lower than in 2000, and the number of mammography screenings showed little change from previous years, according to the researchers.


Susan A. Sabatino, MD, and colleagues reviewed data from the National Health Interview Survey 2013, which is used to monitor progress toward Healthy People 2020 goals for cancer screening based on current U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines.


The researchers found that 58.2% of adults aged 50 to 75 years reported being screened for colorectal cancer; 72.6% of women aged 50 to 74 years had a mammogram; and 80.7% of women aged 21 to 65 years had a Pap test. All of these percentages are below the Healthy People 2020 targets.


“It is concerning to see a stall in colorectal cancer screening rates,” said Lisa C. Richardson, MD, MPH, director of the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “We must find new ways to make people and providers aware that getting tested for colorectal cancer could prevent cancer and save their lives.”


Adults without insurance or a usual source of health care generally had the lowest screening test use.


The percentage of women in the highest education and income groups who were screened for breast cancer exceeded the Healthy People 2020 target, and that of people aged 65 to 75 years who were screened for colorectal cancer was also near the target.