Preliminary results from a national survey of 24 000 adults show that Americans are not making optimal use of tests for the early detection of cancer.1 In 1987, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Bethesda, Md, collaborated with the National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md, to produce a cancer supplement to the National Health Interview Survey that consists of a 30-minute at-home interview on knowledge of, attitudes about, and behavior toward cancer. Data from the first quarter of this yearlong survey have been reviewed; final analysis of the basic findings should be available by the summer of 1989.
In the first quarter, 5723 adults (2426 men and 3297 women) responded to the cancer control section of the questionnaire. This included questions regarding common screening tests for the early detection of cancer, such as Papanicolaou smears, breast physical examinations, mammography, rectal examinations, and stool tests for occult blood. The survey also