Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Because of the nature and the progression of the disease, it is highly preventable and suitable for screening. Yet the American Cancer Society estimates included over 100,000 cases of new occurrence of colorectal cancer and over 50,000 deaths in the year 2002. The continued high colorectal cancer mortality rate is due to the under utilization of screening tests.
This review will explore the barriers to low screening test use. Implications for healthcare professionals on how to increase the general populations’ awareness of colorectal cancer and ways to increase adherence to screening by integrating theories of the Health Belief Model will be discussed. The current research and literature about primary prevention focused on modifiable risk factors and chemoprevention will be examined. Secondary prevention, however, will be the key to help reduce the mortality and morbidity of colorectal cancer. The current screening guidelines will be reviewed as well. It is possible to increase screening rate by modifying and influencing patients’ perceived cancer risk, and by educating and training healthcare providers.