Study: Disabled adults screened less for colorectal cancer

Adults with vision impairments, intellectual disabilities and spinal cord injury are much less likely to be screened for colorectal cancer.
By Amy Wallace   |   March 29, 2017 at 4:18 PM
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March 29 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of Missouri have found individuals with certain disabilities are less likely to get recommended preventive cancer screenings, including colorectal cancer screenings.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in the United States, with roughly 135,000 cases reported in 2016.

Colorectal cancer survival is strongly linked to which stage the cancer is in when diagnosed. The earlier the diagnosis, the better the survival outcomes.

"Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.," Dr. Chelsea Deroche, assistant professor of biostatistics in the University of Missouri Department of Health Management and Informatics and the Biostatistics and Research Design Unit, said in a press release. "However, almost 60 percent of these deaths could be prevented if people ages 50 years or older received routine screenings. When studying adherence rates to recommended screenings, we found that individuals with blindness or low vision, an intellectual disability or a spinal cord injury are less likely to receive screenings than those without these disabilities."

Researchers reviewed data from South Carolina Medicaid and Medicare claims, state health plan claims and hospital discharge data from 2000 to 2009 comparing colorectal screening rates of individuals with blindness or low vision, an intellectual disability or a spinal cord injury with the general population.

Results showed 48 percent of the general population reported receiving routine screenings for colorectal cancer compared to 34 percent of people with an intellectual disability, 44 percent with spinal cord injuries and 46 percent with blindness or low vision.

"These individuals may not be routinely screened for colorectal cancer due to a lack of education and awareness, transportation challenges or other barriers," Deroche said. "These findings support the need for increased awareness and targeted advocacy outreach efforts to both physicians and caregivers to ensure all individuals are screened appropriately."

The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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