What African-Americans should know about Colorectal Cancers:

The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) provides information to both physicians and patients. This information comes directly from their site:

Although all men and women are at risk for colorectal cancers (CRC), some people are at higher risk for the disease because of age, lifestyle or personal and family medical history. According to studies, African-Americans are at a higher risk for the disease than other populations. 

Starting at age 50, everyone should begin routine screening tests. Research shows that African-Americans are being diagnosed at a younger average age than other people. Therefore, some experts suggest that African-Americans should begin their screening at age 45.

  • The incidence of CRC is higher among African-Americans than any other population group in the United States.
  • Death rates from CRC are higher among African-Americans than any other population group in the United States.
  • There is evidence that African-Americans are less likely than Caucasians to get screening tests for CRC.
  • African-Americans are less likely than Caucasians to have colorectal polyps detected at a time when they can easily be removed.
  • African-Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with CRC in advanced stages when there are fewer treatment options available. They are less likely to live five or more years after being diagnosed with CRC than other populations.
  • There may be genetic factors that contribute to the higher incidence of CRC among some African-Americans.
  • African-American women have the same chance of getting CRC as men; and are more likely to die of CRC than are women of any other ethnic or racial group.
  • African-American patients are more likely to have polyps deeper in the colon (on the right side of the colon).

It is important to discuss these facts, and any concerns you may have, with your doctor. Unfortunately, insurance companies do not always recognize this recommendation. You can contact your insurance provider to see if they will allow early screening. If not, it is essential that you do not delay your initial screening, scheduling it at the age of 50. As noted by ASGE, persons diagnosed in the early stages have a 90% cure rate and chance of survival.

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