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J Community Health. 2007 Oct;32(5):311-23.

Prevalence of colorectal cancer testing and screening in a multiethnic primary care population.

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77555-1123, USA.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening is strongly supported by evidence and widely recommended, but remains underutilized. This study reports the prevalence of CRC diagnostic testing and CRC screening in three racial/ethnic groups attending the same primary care clinic. A cross-sectional survey was conducted to elicit past history of CRC testing, including test type, indication and timing. A comparable number of African American, Hispanic and non-Hispanic white patients aged 50-80 were recruited. 560 surveys were completed: mean age was 63.4 years, 64% reported minority race/ethnicity, and 96.8% had insurance. Overall, 62.5% [95% CI: 58.5%, 66.5%] of patients were current with any type of CRC test, when diagnostic and screening procedures were included. However, 48.6% [95% CI: 44.5%, 52.7%] of the sample was current with CRC screening, when only procedures performed for screening in asymptomatic patients were included. Patients least likely to be current with testing were those of minority race/ethnicity (48.2% of Hispanics, 56.7% of African Americans and 67.5% of non Hispanic whites, p < 0.05), younger age, (57.6% of those aged 50-64, and 71.4% of those aged 65-80, p < 0.005), and those with private insurance alone (56.0% private, 67.7% public and 68.1% mixed, p < 0.05). Our findings indicate that racial/ethnic and age related disparities in CRC screening exist even in a patient population that has the same source of health care and no differences in insurance status. These results underline the need for providers to emphasize CRC screening in their practices to minority patients and those younger than 65 years of age.

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