Preventing Breast, Cervical, and Colorectal Cancer Deaths: Assessing the Impact of Increased Screening

Colorectal Cancer

Prev Chronic Dis. 2020 Oct 8;17:E123. doi: 10.5888/pcd17.200039.


INTRODUCTION: The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends select preventive clinical services, including cancer screening. However, screening for cancers remains underutilized in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leads initiatives to increase breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. We assessed the number of avoidable deaths from increased screening, according to USPSTF recommendations, for CRC and female breast and cervical cancers.

METHODS: We used model-based estimates of avoidable deaths for the lifetime of single-year age cohorts under the current and increased use of screening scenarios (data year 2016; analysis, 2018). We calculated prevented cancer deaths for each 1% increase in screening uptake and extrapolated to current level of screening (2016), current level plus 10 percentage points, and increasing screening to 90% and 100% of the eligible population.

RESULTS: Increased use of screening from current levels to 100% would prevent an additional 2,821 deaths from breast cancer, 6,834 deaths from cervical cancer, and 35,530 deaths from CRC over a lifetime of the respective single-year cohort. Increasing use of CRC screening would prevent approximately 8.5 times as many deaths as the equivalent increase in use of breast cancer screening (women only), although twice as many people (men and women) would have to be screened for CRC.

CONCLUSIONS: A large number of deaths could be avoided by increasing breast, cervical, and CRC screening. Public health programs incorporating strategies shown to be effective can help increase screening rates.