The fight against colon cancer through screening is "one of the great public health success stories of the decade," says a top figure at the American Cancer Society: In people over 50, colon cancer rates have dropped by 30% over the past decade, researchers say. That's mostly thanks to screening through colonoscopies, which aim to spot polyps before they become a problem, USA Today reports. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of 50- to 64-year-olds who have received the procedure has almost tripled. Among the 65-plus set, 64% had had a colonoscopy in 2010, compared to 55% in 2000.
Between 2008 and 2010, colon cancer rates fell 7.2% per year, while death rates from the disease have dropped about 3% per year over 10 years. Still, it's the third leading cause of cancer death in the US, and the ACS expects 50,310 to die from the disease this year, with 136,830 new diagnoses. The progress is driving an effort to get 80% of those over age 50 screened by 2018, NPR reports. Some 23 million people between ages 50 and 75 still haven't been screened. Money stands in the way for many: Fewer than half of those who are uninsured or lack primary care health providers have been screened, NPR notes.