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Race Plays Part in Rectal Cancer Treatment

Study finds blacks are diagnosed at younger age with more advanced disease

TUESDAY, Feb. 10, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Race may play a part in the treatment people receive for rectal cancer, says an American study in the February issue of the Archives of Surgery.

The study found that while black rectal cancer patients in the United States are diagnosed at a younger age and with more advanced stages of disease than white patients, they're less likely to receive radiation treatment.

The University of Minnesota study examined data from 52,864 rectal cancer patients (3,851 blacks and 44,010 whites) diagnosed between 1988 and 1999. All the patients were older than 35 and had no prior colorectal or pelvic cancers.

The black patients were younger and had more advanced disease at the time of diagnosis. Rates of sphincter-ablating procedures (resulting in the need for a permanent colostomy bag) were 43 percent for blacks and 37 percent for whites.

The study also found 56 percent of blacks and 53 percent of whites received no radiation therapy for stage II or stage III cancer.

"Blacks with rectal cancer were diagnosed at a younger age and more advanced disease stage than whites, implying a need for more aggressive screening," the study authors write.

"Our data suggest that treatment disparities may contribute to differences in outcome among racial/ethnic groups with rectal cancer, and they highlight the need for improving access to state-of-the-art surgical care for minority patients with rectal cancer," the authors write.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about colorectal cancer.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Feb. 9, 2004
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