Social, Health Care Factors Make Colon Cancer Deadlier for Blacks

They have poorer cancer screening, treatment, study suggests

MONDAY, April 23, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Social, economic and health care inequalities -- not genes -- are probably to blame for black Americans' higher rate of colorectal cancer death compared to whites, a new study finds.

Experts have long noted that black Americans have much higher colorectal cancer death rates than whites. Five years after diagnosis, nearly 50 percent of black patients are dead, compared with 35 percent of white patients, according to background information in the study by a team from the University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston.

Reporting in the June 1 issue of the journal Cancer, researchers reviewed findings from 10 previous studies that examined links between colorectal cancer survival rates and race/ethnicity.

After adjusting for socioeconomic, cancer screening and cancer treatment inequalities, the researchers found that blacks have only slightly lower survival rates than whites.

"These findings demonstrated that there is no strong evidence of racial disparities in survival between African-Americans and Caucasians with colon cancer after accounting for racial differences in socioeconomic status," the study authors wrote.

"Therefore, efforts to eliminate racial disparities in health care and to minimize disparities in socioeconomic status have the potential to reduce racial inequalities in colon cancer survival," they concluded.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about colorectal cancer.

SOURCE: Cancer, news release, April 18, 2007
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