32,000 lives could be saved with colonoscopy: US

Around 32,000 lives could be saved each year if people over 50 got regular colorectal cancer screening as recommended, the US Centers for Disease Control said Tuesday.

The disease is the second leading cause of deaths in the United States after lung cancer, but millions of people "still have not had recommended screening," according to the new CDC report.

"Tragically, one in three people who should be screened for colorectal cancer have not yet done so; and rates are even lower among Hispanics and blacks," said CDC director Thomas Frieden in a statement.

"Each year about 12,000 lives are saved as a result of mammography, and an additional 32,000 lives could be saved if every adult aged 50 years or older got tested regularly for colorectal cancer," he said.

Comparing the rates to screening for breast cancer - the second leading cause of cancer deaths among US women, but also the most commonly found - the CDC noted that "more than 22 million men and women have not had a potentially life-saving screening test for colorectal cancer."

While the signs are encouraging, that more adults are undergoing their recommended screenings, Frieden insisted: "We have more to do, especially when it comes to getting more people screened for colorectal cancer, which kills more American non-smokers than any other cancer."

In 2008, adult Americans who have health insurance had the highest rate of people receiving a colonoscopy, at 66 percent, compared to just 36 percent for those without insurance.