MUSC The Catalyst
MUSC arial view


MUSCMedical LinksCharleston LinksArchivesCatalyst AdvertisersSeminars and EventsResearch StudiesPublic RelationsResearch GrantsCatalyst PDF FileMUSC home pageCommunity HappeningsCampus NewsApplause

MUSCMedical LinksCharleston LinksArchivesCatalyst AdvertisersSeminars and EventsResearch StudiesPublic RelationsResearch GrantsMUSC home pageCommunity HappeningsCampus NewsApplause


NIH panel pushes for more CRC screenings

A National Institutes of Health (NIH) consensus panel found that more needs to be done to reduce the colorectal cancer deaths by striking down barriers to screening.
Leonard E. Egede, M.D., professor of medicine, served on the panel. Egede said there is a need to get this information out to educate people about all the tests available and the importance of having them done.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Despite evidence and guidelines supporting the value of screening for this disease, rates of screening for colorectal cancer are consistently lower than those for other types of cancer, particularly breast and cervical. Although the screening rates in the target population of adults over age 50 have increased from 20-30 percent in 1997 to nearly 55 percent in 2008, the rates still are too low.
In 2008, about 55 percent of Americans, 50 years and older, had been screened for CRC, which compares unfavorably to the 70 to 80 percent seen in some other cancers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is implementing a $100 million program that features free CRC screening services to low-income people, 50 to 64 years of age, who are underinsured or uninsured in 22 states and four tribal organizations. The CDC’s goal is to have 80 percent of those 50 years and older who are covered by the program screened within five years.
“It’s a wonderful program, but its reach is limited,” said Egede about the CDC’s efforts. The aim of the NIH conference is broader than the CDC’s program and seeks to increase participation in the general population, not just among the underinsured or uninsured in select locales, Egede said.
The panel found that the most important factors associated with being screened are having insurance coverage and access to a regular health care provider. Its recommendations highlighted the need to remove out-of-pocket costs for screening tests. Given the variety of tests available, the panel emphasized that informed decisions incorporating personal preferences may help reluctant individuals determine which test’s combined attributes—invasiveness, frequency, and required preparation—are preferable to them, helping them identify and obtain the most palatable test.
For example, an individual may choose a more invasive test requiring less frequent follow-up or a less invasive test requiring more frequent follow-up. Noting differences in screening rates across racial and ethnic groups, socioeconomic status, and geographic location, the panel emphasized the need for targeted strategies for specific subgroups.  
Compared with non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics are less likely to be screened.
A summary of the panel’s findings is available in the panel’s draft statement at

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.