Although cancer screening can reduce the burden of disease through early detection, cancer screening rates remain below national goals. Access to healthcare is a driving factor in people undergoing preventive screenings. Social determinants of health (SDOH), such as geographic, financial, or logistical challenges, can create barriers that make it difficult for people to access recommended healthcare services, including cancer screenings. Factors that undermine equitable access to care must be addressed to optimize cancer screenings in the United States.
At-home screening tests like LetsGetChecked’s home Colon Cancer Screening Test can help address SDOH by meeting people where they are. Our healthcare solutions enable members of your population to access care from wherever they call home, making it as easy as possible to receive recommended cancer screenings.
The cancer screening deficit in the United States
Preventive care access declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, with routine cancer screenings dropping by about 80% in March and April 2020 . Although many people began to catch up on recommended screenings later in the year, studies have revealed that cancer screening rates have remained low after two years of the pandemic. One survey revealed that 39% of adults over 55 delayed care during the pandemic . Preventive care screenings are crucial in this age group as patients become more susceptible to cancer as they age.
Additionally, 50% of patients between 18 to 34 have not caught up on all missed medical appointments . While cancer screenings have gone down overall, traditionally marginalized groups have experienced further barriers to healthcare access and even lower screening rates. Research shows that the overall cancer screening rate is lower among Black, Hispanic, Asian, and AIAN populations than their White counterparts . Increasing equitable access to routine cancer screenings is crucial to helping patients overcome SDOH and improving health outcomes.
How social determinants of health impact cancer screenings
SDOH are critical to cancer prevention and control outcomes. Screening disparities are apparent between different races, ethnicities, household incomes, healthcare coverage, and other population groups. Access to care is one of the main SDOH that create barriers to cancer screening. People may experience inadequate healthcare access for various reasons, including a lack of transportation, time, insurance, or an inflexible work schedule.
Screening alternatives are needed to reach people who live long distances from medical facilities, have difficulty attending in-person appointments, or are uncomfortable in medical settings. Improving cancer screening delivery, uptake, and implementation is a crucial strategy to reduce health disparities in the United States.
Expanding opportunities to screen for cancer with home testing
At-home screenings can help people overcome SDOH by meeting people where they are. Research has shown that these tests are effective, cost-efficient, and associated with higher screening uptake. The COVID-19 pandemic has further reinforced the value of at-home screening tests, as research found that a 16% drop in colorectal cancer screenings from 2018 to 2020 was offset by a 7% increase in usage of at-home screening tests .
LetsGetChecked’s at-home healthcare solutions, such as our at-home Colon Cancer Screening Test, are powerfully accessible, expanding opportunities for your population to screen for cancer. We can help you provide equitable access to screening, enabling you to reach people who would otherwise not receive care.