Older adults with limited life expectancy (LE) frequently receive colorectal cancer (CRC) screening, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Mara A. Schonberg, M.D., M.P.H., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues examined CRC screening receipt according to age and LE in older adults in the United States.

Data were collected for 7,747 community-dwelling adults, aged 65 years and older, who participated in the 2008 or 2010 National Health Interview Survey.

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The researchers found that CRC screening was higher in 2010 than in 2008 (58.9 versus 53.7 percent; P < 0.001), and correlated with longer LE and younger age.

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However, 51.1 percent of adults aged 75 and older and 50.9 percent of adults with less than a 10-year LE reported receiving CRC screening.

CRC screening of adults aged 65 years and older was targeted to those aged 75 years and older and those with less than a 10-year LE in 28.4 percent of cases, based on age and LE at time of screening. Overall, 39.2 percent of adults aged 65 to 75 years with a 10-year LE or more had not been screened recently.

“Older adults with little chance of benefit because of limited LE commonly undergo CRC screening, whereas many adults aged 65 to 75 with a 10-year LE or greater are not screened,” the authors write.


  1. Schonberg, Mara A., MD, MPH, et al. “Colon Cancer Screening U.S. Adults Aged 65 and Older According to Life Expectancy and Age.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. DOI: 10.1111/jgs.13335. [epub ahead of print]. April 20, 2015.