According to recent research, colon cancer does not affect all racial groups equally. Members of minority groups in the United States have a higher likelihood to be diagnosed with colon cancer at a younger age and at a more advanced stage. More specifically, minorities under 50 years of age are twice as likely as whites to be diagnosed with colon cancer.
After examining data from 1973 to 2009, Dr. Jamal Ibdah, chair of cancer research at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, found that minorities, on average, were diagnosed between the ages of 64 and 68 years of age, but non-Hispanic whites were diagnosed at 72 years of age. This information is especially important as racial and ethnic minority populations are increasing in the United States.
Ibdah pointed out, “Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, Alaska Native and African-American populations are the fastest-growing racial and ethnic minority groups in the United States. Having the most accurate statistical data is critical to providing cancer prevention and control programs for these groups.”
Several recent studies have shown a significant increase in colon cancer incidence among younger individuals, proving that no one is too young to develop colon cancer. This disease does not just affect adults over 50 years of age, although age is one of the risk factors for colon cancer. Men and women are being diagnosed with colon cancer in their 30s and 40s, so it is important to be aware of symptoms and risk factors for colon cancer as well as your own family history.
There are many factors that could influence this shift in younger colon cancer diagnoses: genetics, environment, diet, and lifestyle are all possible factors. The good news is that everyone can make lifestyle changes like getting regular physical exercise, choosing a high-fiber and low-fat diet and quitting smoking, which can lower the risk for colon cancer.
Possibly the most important conclusion of this study is that colon cancer screening is essential. Minorities are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced colon cancer because, statistically, these individuals have lower income, less access to health care and educational programming, and lower screening rates. Interventional strategies are imperative because colon cancer is highly treatable when diagnosed in the early stages. As it stands, colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and the great tragedy is that a treatable cancer like colon cancer should be one of the lowest (Source: US News).
Find out more about colon cancer screenings and whether you could be eligible for a free colonoscopy.