Tumor Stage May Explain Racial Disparities in Colon Cancer Survival

Colon cancer strikes an estimated 95,000 Americans each year. For many people, this disease is caught in its earliest stages and is considered highly treatable. Unfortunately, this disease does still claim lives. Researchers, for example, have long been aware that outcomes for non-whites tend to be less positive. They haven’t, however, completely understood the reasons behind the disparity. A recent study shed light on one of the factors that may be driving the difference.

The study in question looked at data related to more than 68,000 patients diagnosed with colon cancer. The patients were all age 66 or older. About 6,000 of them were black and some 61,000 were white. Researchers ultimately found that patients in the black cohort were more likely to be diagnosed when their tumor stage was more advanced. It has also been shown that blacks are more likely to receive less treatment than whites.

Treatment compliance or use aside, the study sheds light on the need for aggressive education about colorectal cancer screening recommendations and prevention. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that screening for men and women both begin around the age of 50. Screening may include fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. These routine procedures are recommended to continue until a person turns 75. Earlier screening may be required for those who have a family history of the disease or who have been diagnosed with polyps in the past.

Colorectal cancer is a concern for everyone, especially as they age. Eating a healthy diet that is rich in fiber and low in red meat, being physically active and avoiding obesity can help lower risks for this disease. People who are concerned about colorectal cancer are urged to talk to their doctors. A healthcare professional can help assess risk while also offering suggestions on how to lower them.

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