Roundup: More People Are Being Screened for Colorectal Cancer, But Not for Breast and Cervical Cancers

Americans are increasingly following guidelines for colorectal cancer screenings, but that’s not the case for women who should get checked for breast and cervical cancers.

More adults underwent recommended colorectal cancer screenings in 2015 than they did in 2000, according to an analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Colorectal screenings increased from 33 percent to 62 percent in men and from 35 percent to 63 percent in women over that 15-year period.

However, the number of cervical cancer screenings decreased from 88 percent to 81 percent in women aged 21 to 65 years who had not had a hysterectomy.

Breast cancer screening remained constant at 72 percent for women aged 50 to 74 years.

The data that was reviewed came from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a database of U.S. household surveys which is used to help determine screening recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

For colorectal cancer screening, the USPSTF recommends adults aged 50 to 75 years receive a fecal occult blood test within 1 year, a sigmoidoscopy within 5 years or a colonoscopy within 10 years. The American Cancer Society encourages monthly breast self-examinations and annual screening mammograms for most women starting at age 45. Those with a family or personal history of breast cancer should consult with their physician and they may need to start screening earlier.

The new analysis found that colorectal cancer screenings were lowest among American Indians and Alaska Natives (48.4 percent). Hispanic individuals received screenings less often than non-Hispanic individuals (47.4 percent vs. 64.2 percent).

Colorectal cancer screenings have yet to reach the “Healthy People 2020” target of 70.5 percent, says Lisa C. Richardson, M.D., director of the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, who conducted the analysis along with CDC colleagues. Healthy People 2020 is a U.S.-led initiative to gather evidence and data to improve public health practices and bolster policies that include screening guidelines.

About 83 percent of women reported being up to date with cervical cancer screenings, which did not reach the Healthy People 2020 target of 93 percent. By 2015, 71.5 percent of women aged 50 to 74 years reported receiving a mammogram within 2 years, which did not meet the Healthy People 2020 target of 81.1 percent.

“The progress in increasing use of colorectal cancer screening is promising, but more needs to be done if the [Healthy People 2020] target is to be achieved,” the researchers wrote. “The lack of progress for breast and cervical cancer screenings highlights the need for more initiatives to reach persons facing barriers to screening.”

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Cycling to Work Can Cut Cancer, Heart Disease Risks by Nearly Half

If you’re able to safely cycle to work, you can cut your risk of developing heart disease or cancer by nearly half, according to a new study.

Many previous studies have shown that cycling and walking have health benefits. This time, researchers at the University of Glasgow set out to investigate the link between active commuting and rates of heart disease and cancer. The researchers analyzed the commuting habits of more than 264,000 people in the United Kingdom and tracked their health over five years.

The study, published in the BMJ, weekly peer-reviewed medical journal, found that compared to “a non-active commute,” cycling to work was associated with a 45 percent lower risk of cancer and a 46 percent lower risk of heart disease.

Walking to work was also beneficial, but not to the same extent, the study found. A walking commute was linked to a 27 percent lower risk of heart disease and a 36 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease. However, walking was not associated with a lower risk of cancer or premature death, the study found.

The study doesn’t establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship between commuting by bike and longevity.

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