Cancer screening tests are an important part of preventive care and increase the odds that medical professionals can identify cancer in the early stages. Early detection of cancer results in the best chance for cure. The American Cancer Society reports cancer screening can prevent thousands of cancer cases and deaths every year.
How common is cancer screening?
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTS) issues recommendations for primary care providers for preventive screening for cancers. Although medical professionals are aware of various cancer screening protocols, not everyone gets the tests they should. Below are some statistics that support this point:
- Breast cancer. Only 50% of women over the age of 40 report having a mammogram within the past year, and only 64% within the past two years.
- Cervical cancer. Only 83% of women between ages 21 and 65 report that they are up to date with cervical cancer screening tests.
- Colon cancer. Only 63% of adults over the age of 50 have received their colorectal screening test.
- Lung cancer. Only 4% of former and current smokers received recommended lung cancer screening known as a low dose computed tomography screening test (or CT scan).
The importance of these tests cannot be understated.
Have these numbers changed?
The numbers above are from data analyzed in 2020 but gathered from patients in 2015. As a result, these numbers likely do not provide an accurate reflection of our current population. Unfortunately, experts predict current numbers are much lower.
President Biden put together a cancer panel to delve into the societal issues that hinder cancer screening appointments throughout the country. Although already experiencing poor rates prior to the pandemic, the (DATE?) report found the rate of screening appointments like mammograms, colonoscopies and lung cancer screening tests dropped to record lows during the pandemic due to a 90% reduction in cancer screening appointments.
Patients today should see their primary care physicians for annual physicals, which is the best time to discuss appropriate cancer screenings before any symptoms arise. Early detection usually results in a cure. Deaths from advanced breast, cervical, colon, lung, prostate, and skin cancers are avoidable with proper screening.