National surveys have reported declines in rates of home-based fecal occult blood test (FOBT) screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) in the last decade. However, socioeconomic status (SES) and racial/ethnic differences in FOBT trends and their changes relative to endoscopic CRC screening have not been evaluated.
Data on adults ages 50 to 64 years from the 2000, 2005, and 2008 National Health Interview Surveys were used. Weighted analyses and multivariate logistic regression were used to study trends in the use of FOBT and endoscopic CRC screening during this period.
Between 2000 and 2008, significant declines in FOBT prevalence occurred in higher SES groups, but not in lower SES groups (uninsured and publicly insured, those without a usual source of care, lower educated, lower income, and immigrants to the United States) or Hispanics. Endoscopic CRC screening during the period studied consistently increased in all higher SES subgroups. In contrast, few lower SES subgroups (publicly insured, lower educated, near poor individuals, long-term immigrants) and Hispanics experienced increases in CRC endoscopic screening, and these increases were smaller than those observed in higher SES subgroups.
Socially and economically disadvantaged groups experienced little or no change in FOBT prevalence, and few of these groups experienced contemporaneous increases in CRC endoscopic screening. These trends suggest the continued availability and acceptance of FOBT in these groups. If national CRC screening goals are to be achieved in populations with lower access to colonoscopy, then annual high-sensitivity FOBT should be promoted as an immediately accessible and viable alternative. Cancer 2012. © 2012 American Cancer Society.