Young Black Americans At Higher Risk For Colon Cancer

Published March 26, 2008

Posted March 11, 2007 – Think colon cancer doesn’t affect you? Think again. Young Black Americans are at much higher risk for colon cancer than similarly aged whites or Hispanics, according to two new studies announced during National Colorectal Cancer Month.

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A New York study found that 48 percent of Blacks under age 50 had precancerous colon polyps, compared with 29 percent of whites and 27 percent of Hispanics, reports BlackDoctor.com. The study involved 177 people under age 50 who underwent colonoscopy screening for colon cancer at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, N.Y.

Another study of  1,477 people screened for colorectal cancer at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn found that of the 177 people identified with colon cancer, 41 percent were younger than 65 years old. Blacks had a lower age at diagnosis (63.3 years) than whites (69.7 years).

"We found that one quarter of the cancers in African-Americans were on the right side of the colon, making these patients more likely to present without specific symptoms, and making colonoscopy a better screening test than sigmoidoscopy," Dr. Emmanuel Akinyemi, one of the investigators on the Coney Island study, said in a prepared statement.

An important note for all African Americans:
In past studies, practitioners have suggested people begin routine screenings for colorectal cancer at 50 because the majority of the people diagnosed are above this age, but recent studies suggest African Americans should begin screenings at 45.

The American College of Gastroenterology have issued new recommendations to healthcare providers to begin colorectal cancer screening in African Americans at age 45 because African Americans are generally diagnosed at younger ages than Whites.

So, even if you don't think you are at risk, during National Colorectal Awareness Month, urge you mom, pops or older friend or relative to get tested.

This article appears courtesy of BlackDoctor.org,the World’s largest and most comprehensive online health resource specifically targeted to African Americans. For more on Black health, visit BlackDoctor.org.

Written by BET-Staff

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