Objective: The purpose of this report is to examine (a) gender-specific correlates of colorectal cancer test use using recent national data from 2003 and (b) patterns of colorectal cancer screening by gender and test modality over time.
Methods: We analyze data from the 1987, 1992, 1998, 2000, and 2003 National Health Interview Surveys. Our sample consists of men and women > or = 50 years never diagnosed with colorectal cancer and who reported a recent fecal occult blood test and/or endoscopy.
Results: In 2003, both men and women reported higher rates of colonoscopy (32.2% and 29.8%, respectively) than use of FOBT (16.1% and 15.3%, respectively) or sigmoidoscopy (7.6% and 5.9%, respectively). Men reported higher use of endoscopy than women if they had a usual source of health care, had talked to a general doctor, and had two to five visits to the doctor in the past year. Men and women 65 years and older had higher rates of any recommended colorectal cancer test (55.8% and 48.5%, respectively) than persons 50 to 64 years (males, 41.0%; females, 31.4%). Use of colorectal cancer tests also was higher among both genders if they were not Hispanic, had higher educational attainment, were former smokers, had health insurance or a usual source of care, or if they talked to a general doctor. Recent use of colorectal cancer tests has increased since 2000 for both women and men largely due to increased use of colonoscopy.
Conclusions: Colorectal cancer testing is increasing for both men and women, although the prevalence of testing remains higher in men. Our data support previous findings documenting socioeconomic disparities in colorectal cancer test use. Access barriers to screening could be particularly difficult to overcome if colonoscopy becomes the preferred colorectal cancer screening modality.