PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA [January 13, 2021] — New research in the January 2021 issue of: JNCCN–Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network notes that more than a third of eligible people miss timely screening tests for colorectal cancer and at least a quarter appear to miss timely screening tests for breast and cervical cancer. The study comes from the University of Alberta, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry in Alberta, Canada, with findings based on self-reported results from the 2007-2016 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). According to the author, the results also point to evidence that screening disparities are linked to lower socioeconomic status and an identifiable minority race — echoing a similar study conducted in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control.
“We already have high quality evidence showing that recommended cancer screening saves lives. From a cost point of view, it is much cheaper to have an efficient cancer screening program and reduce cancer-specific mortality than to have a high incidence of advanced incurable cancers. costs the system much more — not to mention the lost opportunities for healthy, cancer-free individuals to work and contribute to the economy,” said Omar M. Abdel-Rahman Abdelsalam, MBBCh, MSc, MD, assistant professor of medical oncology, University of Alberta. “These findings show that we need more action to address socioeconomic health disparities in our communities, even where health care is publicly funded. The most powerful intervention to improve screening rates would be to invest more in primary care and ensuring that each individual is paired with a primary care physician who can monitor their adherence to recommended screening tests.”
dr. Abdel-Rahman reviewed self-reported data from 99,820 people eligible for colorectal cancer screening, 59,724 people eligible for breast cancer screening, and 46,767 in the cervical cancer screening cohort, based on Canadian guidelines from 2007 to 2016. 43% did. did not undergo a timely colorectal screening test, 35% did not have a timely mammogram, and 25% did not have a timely PAP smear. According to self-reporting within the survey, there was a modest increase in screening compliance over the duration of the study.
“Dr. Abdel-Rahman’s study adds to the literature showing that decreased adherence to current cancer screening practices is associated with social and economic inequalities,” said Mark Helvie, MD, director, Breast Imaging Division, University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center, Vice President, NCCN Guidelines® Panel for Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis, who was not involved in this study. “Colorectal cancer screening was lowest with more than a third reporting no screening. While important differences exist between the NCCN screening guidelines and the Canadian screening guidelines – particularly with regard to colonoscopy and initiation and frequency of mammography – they all agree that there is a need for more focused efforts, research and education to understand and improve compliance by all individuals, as evidenced by the results of this study.”
The survey data does not include the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the release is particularly timely, as doctors report declining screening rates, which are expected to potentially lead to thousands of additional cancer deaths over the next decade. The study further highlights how economic and racial inequalities contribute to inequalities in health outcomes and demonstrates the need for interventions beyond health service coverage.
To read the entire study, visit JNCCN.org. Free access to “Patterns and Trend of Cancer Screening in Canada; Results from a Contemporary National Survey” is available until April 10, 2021.
 Hall IJ, Tangka FK, Sabatino SA, Thompson TD, Graubard BI, Breen N. Patterns and trends in cancer screening in the United States. Previous Chronic condition 2018;15:170465. DOI: http://dx.
 Sharpless, Norman E., COVID-19 and Cancer, 2020, https://
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