Reducing inequities in colorectal cancer screening in North America

Kathleen M Decker1, Harminder Singh2
1Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba; Screening Programs, Cancer Care Manitoba, Canada
2Department of Community Health Sciences; Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba; Department of Haematology and Medical Oncology, Cancer Care Manitoba, Canada
DOI: 10.4103/1477-3163.144576


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is an important cause of mortality and morbidity in North America. Screening using a fecal occult blood test, flexible sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy reduces CRC mortality through the detection and treatment of precancerous polyps and early stage CRC. Although CRC screening participation has increased in recent years, large inequities still exist. Minorities, new immigrants, and those with lower levels of education or income are much less likely to be screened. This review provides an overview of the commonly used tests for CRC screening, disparities in CRC screening, and promising methods at the individual, provider, and system levels to reduce these disparities. Overall, to achieve high CRC participation rates and reduce the burden of CRC in the population, a multi-faceted approach that uses strategies at all levels to reduce CRC screening disparities is urgently required.

Keywords: Cancer, colorectal, equity, participation, screening