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Baltimore Sun

CDC: Not enough Americans screened for cancer

Most Americans are getting screened for colon and breast cancer, two of the nation's deadliest cancers. But millions still are not, and more than 30,000 people died last year because they weren't screened, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Colorectal screenings have increased to 63 percent in 2008 from 52 percent in 2002, the CDC said. And 81 percent of women 50-74 years old did get the recommended mammography screening for breast cancer in 2008.

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That left more than 22 million people who did not have the colon screening and about 7 million women without a mammogram.

"It's encouraging to see more adults getting recommended cancer screenings," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, in a statement. "But we have more to do, especially when it comes to getting more people screened for colorectal cancer, which kills more American non-smokers than any other cancer."

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The data come from the state-level 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey.

Freiden said that the data show one in three people who should be screen for colon cancer have not been, with rates lower for Hispanics and Blacks. He said 32,000 lives could be saved is every adult 50 and older got tested regularly. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of death in the country, after lung cancer.

He estimated 12,000 women's lives are saved by mammography every year. Breast cancer is the most commonly found cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among American women.

The CDC found that doctor recommendations and health insurance coverage strongly influence screening rates. Officials also said the doctor recommendations were underused.

For more information, go to the CDC's site for colon cancer  and the agency's screening site.

AP photo of a mammogram


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