Merck Manuals Survey Finds Over 7 in 10 Americans Would Avoid or Delay Getting a Colonoscopy

Thursday, December 19, 2019 Cancer News
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Font : A-A+ offers insights on updated American Cancer Society colorectal cancer screening recommendations and what to expect during a colonoscopy

KENILWORTH, N.J., Dec. 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Outside of skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among men and women in the U.S. Preventive screenings like colonoscopies are the best way to catch colon cancer early and effectively treat it. Yet more than seven out of 10 Americans (72%) admit they would avoid or delay getting a colonoscopy for one reason or another, according to a survey released today from the Merck Manuals.

The survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of the Manuals in October 2019. According to the survey, among those who would avoid or delay getting a colonoscopy, reasons they would do so include:

  • They don't have any symptoms that concern them -34%
  • The preparation process is unpleasant – 33%
  • They don't have a family history of colon cancer – 30%
  • They think they are too young to need one – 30%
Screening for colorectal cancer should begin at age 50 for people who are at average risk of developing colorectal cancer. However, rates of colorectal cancer are increasing in younger individuals. As a result, the American Cancer Society recently changed its recommendation for when individuals should start having colonoscopies. The group now recommends individuals of average risk begin screening at age 45 rather than age 50. Nine in 10 (92%) Americans surveyed are not aware  that the recommended age is 45, and 38% of Americans aged 45 and up say they have never had a colonoscopy.

In a recent editorial on, Dr. Minhhuyen Nguyen, a gastroenterologist and author of the Merck Manuals pages on colorectal cancer, details the risk factors that impact screening age and the importance of this critical preventive care. "There's no benefit to waiting. At a minimum, individuals with average risk of colorectal cancer should have a conversation with their doctor about screenings by their 45th birthday."

The editorial also clears up misconceptions many patients have about colonoscopies and what the preparation for the procedure entails. It offers several questions patients should ask their physician in order to feel more comfortable and informed about the procedure. "A colonoscopy today is much different than it was 20 years ago. And the benefits of the preventive screening far outweigh any unpleasantness that comes with the exam or preparing for it."

About The Merck Manuals and MSD Manuals

First published in 1899 as a small reference book for physicians and pharmacists, The Merck Manual grew in size and scope to become one of the world's most widely used comprehensive medical resources for professionals and consumers. As The Manual evolved, it continually expanded the reach and depth of its offerings to reflect the mission of providing the best medical information to a wide cross-section of users, including medical professionals and students, veterinarians and veterinary students, and consumers. In 2015, The Manuals kicked off Global Medical Knowledge 2020, a program to make the best current medical information accessible by up to three billion professionals and patients around the world by 2020. For access to thousands of medical topics with images, videos and a constantly expanding set of resources, visit or and connect with us on social media:For Consumers in the U.S. and its territories: Twitter and FacebookFor Professionals in the U.S. and its territories: Twitter and Facebook

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Braithwaite from October 29-31, 2019 among 2,022 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Joe McIntyre at

About Merck

For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world - including cancer, cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer's disease and infectious diseases including HIV and Ebola. For more information, visit and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Media ContactJoe McIntyreBraithwaite Communications(215) 564-3200 ext. 

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SOURCE Merck Manuals

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