Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates Increased During the COVID Pandemic, but With Stool-based Tests, Not Colonoscopy

Douglas K. Rex, MD, MASGE, reviewing Liu PH, et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2022 Dec 22.

This report is from the National Health Interview Survey, an annual survey of U.S. households covering a wide range of health topics.

Response rates were 59.1% in 2019 and 50.9% in 2021. Respondents who reported being up to date with colorectal cancer (CRC) screening increased from 66.7% in 2019 to 70.9% in 2021. 

Past-year screening increased overall. Specifically, screening performed with a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) increased from 6.7% to 10.7%, and screening with FIT-DNA grew from 1.7% to 2.3%, whereas colonoscopy decreased from 15.2% to 13.5%. 

Past-year screening was associated with an age of 65 to 75 years (odds ratio [OR], 1.28), Hispanic ethnicity (OR, 1.23), Black race (OR, 1.29), COVID-related delays in care (OR, 1.24), and receipt of a COVID vaccination (OR, 1.47).

Douglas K. Rex, MD, FASGE


These data indicate that overall CRC screening rates increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, exceeding 70% in the U.S. population for the first time, as a result of the increased use of stool tests rather than colonoscopy, particularly in minority populations.


Note to readers: At the time we reviewed this paper, its publisher noted that it was not in final form and that subsequent changes might be made.


Liu PH, Singal AG, Murphy CC. Stool-based tests mitigate impacts of COVID-19 on colorectal cancer screening. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2022 Dec 22. (Epub ahead of print) (


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