Preventive Screening Tests Detect Only 14% of Diagnosed Cancers

Around one out of every five deaths in the United States is due to cancer. New studies suggest screenings remain unproductive in detecting cancer, as one of the leading causes in obesity continues to rise.

Key takeaways:
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    NORC at the University of Chicago finds screenings still failing to capture signs of cancer in low success rates.
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    U.S. Representatives announced the Find It Early Act to “improve detection of breast cancer and save lives on Tuesday.
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    CDC announces new charts with higher BMIs for children who are currently obese. Obesity is one of the main causes of cancer in the U.S.

NORC at the University of Chicago, a nonpartisan research organization, released a report on Tuesday analyzing the success rates of cancer screenings in the United States. Costs for screenings still remain high, yet uninsured Americans hope may be on the way.

U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) announced the Find It Early Act earlier this week. Their bill’s goal is to ensure all health insurance plans cover screening and diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasounds, and MRIs with no cost-sharing.

Currently in the U.S., 27.2 million did not have health insurance at any point in 2021. Although it is a slight decrease from 2020, the number of uninsured Americans remains unimpressive.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more Americans felt unable to receive care due to high costs and were left insurance-less. The current costs for mammograms without health insurance varies per state. In highly populated states like Texas, patients reported costs of $65 and $170 for a screening mammogram, while costs for diagnostic mammogram rose to $638 and $1,046.

New legislation seeks to provide covered cancer screenings

For many women lacking health insurance, the Find It Early Act could provide itself as a sign of relief when worrying about costs associated with possible screenings. In addition, the Find It Early Act will allow women with dense breasts opportunities for multiple screenings to ensure accurate results.

With the NORC report finding 14% of diagnosed cancers are detected by screening with a recommended test, multiple chances for detection would be immensely beneficial. Here are the current success rates in cancer screenings based on type according to NORC report:

  • 61% Breast
  • 3% Lung
  • 77% Prostate
  • 52% Cervical
  • 45% Colorectal

Well-known former NBC and CBS journalist, Katie Kouric, was present at the Find It Early Act’s announcement. As a breast cancer patient, she praised the bill for helping Americans in a paycheck-to-paycheck situation.

“Like one in eight women, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. On June 21, 2022, — that became my reality. I feel incredibly fortunate that I was diagnosed early, but so many women find out too late.” Kouric said.”Breast cancer is treatable, and 99 percent of women who are diagnosed early survive. That is why everyone needs to get screened. The Find It Early Act is a critical step toward bettering access to these life-saving screenings.”

Time will tell if The Find it Early Act makes it way through the legislature and onto President Biden’s desk. However, the bill will likely be received well by an increasingly frustrated American public on health care costs.

Obesity leads to cancer

Other than smoking, the CDC reports obesity as one of the main causes of cancer. Childhood obesity remains a major area of concern in the U.S., with 14.7 million children and adolescents affected. Obesity is the cause of 13 different forms of cancer.

Obesity is more prevalent in the minor communities, with many foods containing nutritious value remaining more expensive than junk-food options. Based on stats from 2021, 26.2% of Hispanic and 24.8% of non-Hispanic Black children are currently obese versus 16.6% among non-Hispanic White children, and 9.0% within non-Hispanic Asian children.

Cancers related to obesity from the CDC:

  • Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus
  • Breast (in women who have gone through menopause)
  • Colon and rectum
  • Uterus
  • Gallbladder
  • Upper stomach
  • Kidneys
  • Liver
  • Ovaries
  • Pancreas
  • Meningioma (a type of brain cancer)
  • Thyroid
  • Multiple myeloma

CDC changes BMI scale for children

On Thursday, the CDC adjusted its body mass index (BMI) due to increased obesity prevalent in children. BMI is a mathematical formula calculating a person’s weight in pounds divided by the square of height in feet. A good BMI score for adults ranges from 18.5–24.9.

Previously the BMI scale was charted as high as 37 for children, but with new data, the scale reaches 60. Although BMI is important for determining health, it is not the automatic answer for children. BMI is age and sex-specific, often referred to as BMI-for-age for children and teens. Other factors including family history, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, eating patterns, and physical activity level are evaluated when determining a child’s future health standing.


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