ATLANTAAlthough screening can reduce mortality from colorectal
cancer, a CDC study indicates low use of sigmoidoscopy/proctoscopy
and the fecal occult blood test (FOBT), particularly within the
recommended time intervals. People with health insurance, higher
incomes, and more education were more likely to report having had
In 1997, only 41% of adults age 50 and older reported having had one
of the two commonly recommended screening tests (FOBT or flexible
sigmoidoscopy) within the recommended time frame [MMWR 48(6):116-121, 1999].
The CDC analyzed data from the 1997 Behavioral Risk Factor
Surveillance System (BRFSS) on the use of colorectal screening tests.
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico participated
in the BRFSS, a population-based, random-digit-dialed telephone
survey of the noninstitutionalized, US population 18 years or older.
A total of 52,754 persons aged 50 or over were asked whether they had
ever had a blood stool test using a home kit or a sigmoidoscopy/proctos-copy
and when the last test had been performed.
Overall, 39.7% of respondents reported ever having had an FOBT, and
41.7% said they had ever had sigmoidoscopy/proctoscopy. A total of
19.8% reported having had FOBT during the preceding year, and 30.4%
said they had had sigmoidoscopy/proctoscopy during the preceding 5
years (the recommended time periods). Overall, 40.9% reported having
had either test within the recommended time interval, and 9.5%
reported having had both tests during the prescribed time.
Men were more likely than women to have had sigmoidoscopy/proctoscopy
(35.1% vs 26.7%), and women were more likely to have had FOBT (20.9%
The findings in this report underscore the need for efforts to
increase screening for colorectal cancer, the report said.
In response to low rates of use of screening tests, CDC is
beginning a comprehensive health communication campaign to educate
consumers and health care providers about the importance of
colorectal cancer screening and to encourage patients to discuss
screening options with their providers.