• National Health Interview Survey;
  • cancer screening;
  • mammography;
  • Papanicolaou test;
  • prostate-specific antigen;
  • colorectal screening



This paper examines the prevalence of cancer screening use as reported in 2005 among US adults, focusing on differences among historically underserved subgroups. We also examine trends from 1992 through 2005 to determine whether differences in screening use are increasing, staying the same, or decreasing.


Data from the National Health Interview Surveys between 1992 and 2005 were analyzed to describe patterns and trends in cancer screening practices, including Papanicolaou test, mammography, prostate-specific antigen, and colorectal screening. Logistic regression was used to report 2005 data for population subgroups defined by several demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.


Rates of use for cancer tests are rising only for colorectal cancer, due largely to the increase in colorectal endoscopy screening. Use of all the modalities was strongly influenced by contact with a physician and by having health insurance coverage.


There remain large gaps in use for all screening modalities by education, income, usual source of care, health insurance, and recent physician contact. These specific populations would benefit from interventions to overcome these barriers to screening. Cancer 2010. Published 2010 by the American Cancer Society.