Progress in cancer screening practices in the United States: results from the 2000 National Health Interview Survey

Cancer. 2003 Mar 15;97(6):1528-40. doi: 10.1002/cncr.11208.


Background: Understanding differences in cancer screening among population groups in 2000 and successes or failures in reducing disparities over time among groups is important for planning a public health strategy to reduce or eliminate health disparities, a major goal of Healthy People 2010 national cancer screening objectives. In 2000, the new cancer control module added to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) collected more detailed information on cancer screening compared with previous surveys.

Methods: Data from the 2000 NHIS and earlier surveys were analyzed to discern patterns and trends in cancer screening practices, including Pap tests, mammography, prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening, and colorectal screening. The data are reported for population subgroups that were defined by a number of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

Results: Women who were least likely to have had a mammogram within the last 2 years were those with no usual source of health care (61%), women with no health insurance (67%), and women who immigrated to the United States within the last 10 years (61%). Results for Pap tests within the last 3 years were similar. Among both men and women, those least likely to have had a fecal occult blood test or endoscopy within the recommended screening interval had no usual source of care (14% for men and 18% for women), no health insurance (20% for men and 18% for women), or were recent immigrants (20% for men and 18% for women). An analysis of changes in test use since the 1987 survey indicates that the disparities are widening among groups with no usual source of care.

Conclusions: No striking improvements have been observed for the groups with greatest need. Although screening use for most groups has increased since 1987, major disparities remain. Some groups, notably individuals with no usual source of care and the uninsured are falling further behind; and, according to the 2000 data, recent immigrants also experience a significant gap in screening utilization. More attention is needed to overcome screening barriers for these groups if the population benefits of cancer screening are to be achieved.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mass Screening / standards*
  • Mass Screening / trends*
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / analysis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Public Health
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Social Class
  • United States
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen