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Self-Reported Colorectal Cancer Screening

Summary Indicator Report Data View Options

Why Is This Important?

The fecal occult blood test and sigmoidoscopy are important tools in the detection of various health conditions, especially cancer of the colon and rectum. Colorectal cancer is unfortunately relatively common, does not have symptoms in its early stages, and has a risk that increases with age. Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most effective means by which colorectal cancer can be prevented or found early, when treatment is easier. Such screening helps people stay healthy and protects lives. The majority of diagnoses of this type of cancer occur in people who are over the age of 50. As a result, most people are advised to begin receiving these screening tests at age 50. Screening for hidden blood in the stool, using the fecal occult blood test, results in the detection of colorectal cancer at relatively high rates. Additionally, widespread use of this non-invasive, annual test has been shown to decrease both incidence and mortality in randomized controlled trials. By contrast, sigmoidoscopy is a minimally invasive test which uses a tiny video camera to examine the structure of the rectum and the lower part of the colon to find any abnormal areas. A sigmoidoscopy is usually performed only once every 5 years, depending on one's personal risk for colorectal cancer, but is also proven to decrease colorectal cancer incidence and mortality. Although this is a more involved procedure, sigmoidoscopy does have an enhanced ability, when compared to the fecal occult blood test, to find both cancer and colorectal polyps. Polyps are small growths which can over time become cancer, if left in place. Any polyps that are discovered can immediately be extracted through the medical device used for a sigmoidoscopy to prevent possible progression to cancer or to better assess whether or not any cancer is currently present.


Estimated percentage of New Jersey adults ages 50-75 years who are current with colorectal cancer screening recommendations. An individual is considered current if they have had a take-home fecal immunochemical test (FIT) or high-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT) within the past year, and/or a flexible sigmoidoscopy within the past 5 years with a take-home FIT/FOBT within the past 3 years, and/or a colonoscopy within the past ten years.

Data Source

Behavioral Risk Factor Survey, Center for Health Statistics, New Jersey Department of Health

How the Measure is Calculated

Numerator:Number of New Jersey adults aged 50-75 years who reported that they are current with colorectal cancer screening recommendations.
Denominator:The total number of survey respondents aged 50-75 excluding those who answered "don't know" or "refused" to the numerator question.

How Are We Doing?

In 2020, approximately 72 percent of New Jersey adults aged 50-75 reported being current with colorectal cancer screening recommendations.

What Is Being Done?

A fecal occult blood test and sigmoidoscopy are recommended by the Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan 2008-2012. The Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan 2008-2012 has been developed by the Task Force on Cancer Prevention, Early Detection and Treatment in New Jersey which aims to reduce the incidence, illness, and death due to cancer among New Jersey residents.

Available Services

NJDOH has many programs and partnerships related to cancer resources, cancer information and cancer prevention. []

Health Program Information

For cancer resources and initiatives: []