Background: Although effective screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) exists, only 37% of incident CRC are diagnosed at a localized stage at which treatment is effective. We identified demographic and other characteristics of adults (> or = 50 years old) who reported no CRC screening.
Methods: We calculated the prevalence of never having had a fecal occult blood test and/or a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy by age, sex, and other factors using the 1999 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data.
Results: CRC screening tests were underutilized across all segments of the population. Underutilization was highest in persons aged 50-64 years and those with lower education and a lack of health insurance and preventive services.
Conclusions: The data indicate that large proportions of average-risk adults across various sociodemographics and behavioral factors are not utilizing recommended CRC screening tests. There is a need to increase the awareness of the importance of utilizing effective CRC screening tests for the early detection of colorectal cancers.