American adults with disabilities have lower colon cancer screening rates than other adults, a new study finds.
Researchers reviewed South Carolina Medicaid and Medicare claims, state health plan claims and hospital discharge data from 2000 to 2009.
About 48 percent of the general population reported having routine screenings, compared to 34 percent of those with intellectual disabilities; 44 percent of those with spinal cord injuries, and 46 percent of people with blindness or limited sight.
“These individuals may not be routinely screened for colon cancer due to a lack of education and awareness, transportation challenges or other barriers,” study author Chelsea Deroche said in a University of Missouri-Columbia news release. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Management and Informatics.
“These findings support the need for increased awareness and targeted advocacy outreach efforts to both physicians and caregivers to ensure all individuals are screened appropriately,” she added.
Colon cancer is fourth most common type of cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer deaths. Deroche noted that almost 60 percent of these deaths could be prevented if people would get routine screenings starting at age 50.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening 50- to 75-year-olds. There are three ways to check for colon cancer: fecal occult blood test every year; sigmoidoscopy every five years, plus a fecal occult blood test every three years; or colonoscopy every 10 years.
The earlier colon cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances of survival.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on colon cancer screening.