Cancer affects racial groups differently, and colon cancer is no exception. Minority groups in the United States have a higher risk for developing certain cancers, and researchers are seeking to understand the disparity.
April 9-15 is National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, a part of National Minority Health Month. The event has evolved from an health initiative established in April 1915 by Booker T. Washington to advance health equity among minority groups.
People in minority groups are at higher risk for colon cancer and other cancers because they’re more likely to live in poverty and be medically uninsured or underinsured. African Americans are more likely to develop colon cancer and have shorter survival rates and higher death rates than other groups in the United States. Research shows that African Americans are at higher risk of being diagnosed with young-onset colon cancer or advanced stage colon cancer.
The American Cancer Society funds research to understand healthcare disparities and create strategies for improvement. The ACS aims to improve access to screenings and treatment, including programs to help people quit smoking. They also fund research to help understand the barriers that different minority groups may face and work to create strategies to overcome them.
Colon cancer is a preventable disease when it is discovered in the early stages, but statistics show that at least one-third of all American adults are not being screened for colon cancer as recommended by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. Lack of screening is especially an issue among African Americans, even among individuals who have a family history of colon cancer.
Because of higher colon cancer incidence, African Americans should begin screening at age 45 instead of age 50. Most adults who are at average risk for colon cancer should get their first colonoscopy at age 50, but other risk factors could lower the recommended screening age.
Talk to your gastroenterologist about when you should be screened for colon cancer. Colon cancer is 90 percent treatable when discovered in the early stages, so remind a family member or a friend to get screened. Let’s all do our part during Minority Cancer Awareness Week and spread the word about the importance of preventative screenings.
If you are not under the care of a board-certified gastroenterologist, let us help connect you with one. You can make an appointment for a colonoscopy at an ambulatory surgery center near your home and enjoy the convenience of personalized care, lower wait times and reduced cost.