Study: Skipping cancer screenings linked to higher mortality

By Tauren Dyson

Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Researchers have found a link between people who don't get cancer screenings and higher mortality rates.

The study, published Friday in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that participants who didn't get prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian cancer screenings faced a higher risk of mortality from other causes.


The study suggests that people who don't follow the chronic disease prevention guidelines -- including benchmarks for physical activity, obesity, diet and alcohol consumption -- are not likely to get regular screenings for those four cancers either.

"For example, lower levels of adherence to breast cancer screening guidelines have been reported among current and former smokers, as well as among obese women," the study authors wrote, citing a 2015 study.

The researchers from the National Institutes of Health asked men to take antigen tests and digital rectal exams for prostate cancer. They asked women to take cancer antigen 125 tests and transvaginal ultrasound tests for ovarian cancer.

After a 10-year follow-up, the researchers discovered that more than 55,000 of the 77,443 participants adhered to the cancer screening protocol.

The mortality rate per 10,000 person-years for participants who took no cancer screenings was 168.3 versus 116.3 for those who took them all.


For participants who took all or no cancer screenings, digestive conditions were the leading causes of death.

Dr. Deborah Grady and Dr. Monica Parks of the University of California at San Francisco disputed the connection between non-adherence to cancer screenings and higher mortality.

"There is no way that non-adherence with cancer screening could cause increased mortality from a range of diseases not associated with screening," Grady and Parks wrote in an editorial responding to the study.

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