Study finds cancer screening rates lower than US goal

According to a new report from the University of Miami, recent years have seen fewer people getting screened.

Those who buy Tamoxifen to treat breast cancer know the importance of screening, especially when risk factors are present. According to a new report from the University of Miami, however, recent years have seen fewer people getting screened.

The National Cancer Institute notes that when cancer is found in its early stages, the chances of successful treatment may rise. Finding abnormalities before the condition spreads in the body is often key to preventing metastasis. Although problems exist with screenings, such as the chance of a false-positive or injury from certain procedures, medical professionals may suggest that those with hereditary or existing risks take a test.

"There is a great need for increased cancer prevention efforts in the U.S.," noted the University of Miami study lead author Tainya Clarke, M.P.H., "especially for screening as it is considered one of the most important preventive behaviors and helps decrease the burden of this disease on society in terms of quality of life, the number of lives lost and insurance costs."

By examining data from more than 170,000 people, just over 4 percent of whom were cancer survivors, the researchers were able to estimate the rate of cancer screenings for the general public between 1997 and 2010. The study found that the number of screenings was below the Department of Health and Human Services' goal of a 50 percent rate of testing for Americans for all types of cancer, except colorectal. Cancer survivors, however, were tested at a much higher rate of 78 percent during the study period.

Screenings aren't designed to diagnose cancer, but rather to spot telltale signs that necessitate further testing. The National Cancer Institute indicates that diagnostic tests may be necessary when an abnormality such as a breast lump is discovered during screening.