Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men and women in the United States. Fortunately, colon cancer screenings have been shown to contribute to decreases in CRC incidence and mortality. Over the last thirty years, colorectal cancer incidence decreased by over 45%, and mortality decreased by over 50% in the United States due to screening advancements and early cancer detection, as well as behavioral changes [1]. However, colorectal cancer screening disparities continue to exist among certain racial and socioeconomic groups.

Colorectal cancer is a crucial public health issue that requires strengthened strategies to increase health equity. LetsGetChecked’s at-home Colon Cancer Screening Test can enhance screening strategies to help providers and health plans close gaps in care and address disparities in access to quality healthcare.


Disparities in colorectal cancer screenings


Colorectal cancer screening rates vary widely in the United States by race and socioeconomic status. Although screening rates in American adults aged 50 to 75 have improved among minority populations in recent years, non-Hispanic white screening rates are higher (65.6%) and lower among black (60.3%), Asian (52.1%), and Hispanic adults (47.4%) [2].

Data suggests that certain minority populations in the United States are disproportionately affected by colorectal cancer and are more likely to receive a diagnosis when their disease has advanced to the metastatic stage. Of all the racial groups in the United States, Black Americans have the highest CRC incidence and mortality rates, with a 20% higher likelihood of getting colorectal cancer and a 40% higher death rate [3].


Contributors to colorectal cancer screening disparities


Disparities in colorectal cancer screening participation can be partially attributed to differences in socioeconomic status. Socioeconomic status is one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of health, overall disease burden, and premature death [4]. Individuals with lower socioeconomic status have poorer outcomes throughout the entire colorectal cancer care continuum, due to differences in risk factors to screening participation and treatment.

Additionally, the impact of adverse social determinants of health or barriers to care at the patient, provider, healthcare system, and public policy level have led to disparities in colon cancer screening uptake. Such social-structural influences on health disproportionately affect marginalized communities and determine downstream health outcomes. The low uptake of colorectal cancer screenings in minority groups and populations with low socioeconomic status may be associated with facing additional barriers to participation in cancer screenings or receiving less than optimal medical care. Barriers that may play a role in colorectal cancer screening effectiveness may include inadequate insurance coverage, lack of a medical provider, less access to financial resources or transportation, and schedule availability.


How at-home screenings can address screening disparities


The large colorectal cancer disparities experienced by individuals with low socioeconomic status and individuals of certain racial minorities may be lessened by improving access to and uptake of colorectal cancer screening. At-home colon cancer screening tests can help reduce barriers to screening and improve access to quality care. Despite data supporting the effectiveness of colon cancer screenings, screening utilization in the United States still remains suboptimal.

Strengthening colon cancer screening strategies with at-home testing can increase preventive care access to the communities that need it the most. Current efforts to provide screenings are inefficient as many at-risk individuals may miss opportunities for prevention. By meeting patients where they are, at-home colon cancer screenings can close gaps in care, especially in underserved communities.


Broaden access to preventive care with LetsGetChecked


LetsGetChecked’s at-home Colon Cancer Screening Test allows people to take their test from the comfort of their own homes, engaging them outside the traditional healthcare setting. As no on-site appointment is necessary, this easy and convenient screening method can help health plans and providers expand outreach to at-risk individuals who might otherwise not receive the preventive care they need. With broader screening access and higher engagement, at-home testing can help address colorectal cancer disparities to help individuals identify their risk and ultimately improve their health outcomes.

Together, we can expand screening access and close gaps in care to promote health equity and ensure that people receive the quality healthcare they deserve. LetsGetChecked has partnered with some of the top healthcare providers and health plans in the country to improve access to quality healthcare, drive higher engagement, and produce better health outcomes. Contact us today or sign up for our monthly newsletter to get curated insights from our team of experts, event invitations, and industry news you can use.


References


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405844020303297
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6538a6.htm#:~:text=Despite these increases%2C in 2015,and Hispanic (47.4%25) adults
  3. https://www.pfizer.com/news/articles/understanding_healthcare_disparities_in_colorectal_cancer
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6957741/