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This study investigated breast and colorectal cancer screening among 196 low-income women being treated for psychiatric illnesses. Main outcome measures included breast self-examination (BSE), clinical breast examination (CBE), mammography, digital rectal examination (DRE), and fecal occult blood test (FOBT). Results indicated that 49% and 66% of women 40 years of age or older had obtained mammograms and CBEs, respectively, in the preceding year. Forty-four per cent of women 20 years of age or older reported monthly BSE. Forty-six per cent and 35% of women 50 years of age or older reported having digital rectal exams (DRE) or fecal occult blood tests (FOBT), respectively, in the preceding year. Multivariate analyses showed that physician recommendation of screening was the strongest predictor of having obtained a mammogram, CBE, DRE or FOBT in the preceding year. Physician recommendation and self-confidence in performing BSE were the strongest predictors of monthly BSE. These results highlight the importance of physician recommendation of adherence to screening guidelines for breast and colorectal cancer. Because psychiatrists frequently treat psychiatric patients on a regular basis, they are in a unique position to encourage cancer screening and to monitor compliance with their recommendations.