A majority of people with a family history of colorectal cancer (CRC) are not getting screened for the disease early enough, according to a new study. The research was published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Preventing Chronic Disease.

Meng-Han Tsai, of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and colleagues collected data on 26,064 men and women who took part in the 2005 and 2010 National Health Interview Survey.

Among these people, 2,470 reported a family history of CRC. The researchers found that 45.6 percent of these respondents had a colonoscopy (25.2 percent in 2005 and 65.8 percent 2010), but only 38.3 percent had a colonoscopy when they were 40 to 49.

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First-degree relatives were nearly twice as likely as non-first-degree relatives to have a colonoscopy. However, compared with people in their 50s, only about a third as many of those with a mother, father, or sibling who had CRC had a colonoscopy between ages 40 and 49. People with insurance were three times more likely to have a colonoscopy than those without insurance.

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“Despite a five-fold increase in colonoscopy screening rates since 2005, rates among first-degree relatives younger than the conventional screening age have lagged,” the authors conclude.

“Screening promotion targeted to this group may halt the recent rising trend of CRC among younger Americans.”


  1. Tsai, Meng-Han, MHA, et al. “Colonoscopy Screening Among US Adults Aged 40 or Older With a Family History of Colorectal Cancer.” CDC. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd12.140533. May 21, 2015.