Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal Cancer Screening Is Less Common Among Younger US Adults

Adults in the United States aged 50 to 54 years are less likely to be screened for colorectal cancer than adults aged 70 to 75 years, according to a recent study.

The investigators aimed to determine the prevalence of colorectal cancer screenings in younger adults after the US Preventive Services Task Force recommended screening at age 45 years instead of age 50 years in May 2021. 

Using data from the National Interview Survey, the investigators estimated the colorectal cancer screening prevalence in adults aged 50 to 75 years. A total of 7 survey years were included: 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2015, and 2018. Colorectal cancer screening prevalence was estimated via the status of colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, computed tomography colonography, and stool-based tests.

The data were categorized into 5-year age groups (50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-75 years). In each survey, the authors also considered an individual’s race/ethnicity, educational attainment, family income, and health insurance.

The data showed that despite an overall increase in colorectal cancer screenings from 2000 to 2018 (36.7% and 66.1%, respectively) screening prevalence was lowest for those aged 50 to 54 years (47.1%) in 2018. Additionally, screening prevalence was lowest in 2018 for Hispanic adults (56.5%), Asian adults (57.1%), individuals with less than a high school degree (53.6%), individuals from low-income families (56.6%), or individuals without health insurance (39.7%). Between each 5-year age group, the investigators found that prevalence differed over time but was consistent across demographics.

“As new guidelines are implemented, care must be taken to ensure screening benefits are realized equally by all population groups, particularly newly eligible adults age[d] 45 [years] to 49 years,” the authors concluded.


—Jessica Ganga


Liu PH, Sanford NN, Lian PS, Singal AG, Murphy CC. Persistent disparities in colorectal cancer screening: a tell-tale sign for implementing new guidelines in younger adults. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. Published online June 23, 2022. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-21-1330