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Racial Clustering Linked With Access to Colon Cancer Care

Areas with more African American residents have less colorectal surgeons, radiation oncologists

TUESDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- The more African Americans a county has, the less colorectal surgeons, gastroenterologists and radiation oncologists there are in that county, whereas an increasing percentage of Asian Americans is associated with more specialists in that area, according to a study published in the June issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Awori J. Hayanga, M.D., of the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, and colleagues analyzed data from all counties of the United States to assess the prevalence rate of African Americans and Asian Americans and the number of colorectal cancer specialists.

For every percentage point increase in the number of African Americans, there was a decrease in the number of gastroenterologists, radiation oncologists and colorectal surgeons, the investigators discovered; whereas the inverse was true for every percentage point increase in the population of Asian Americans.

"Strategies that target the appropriate use of adjuvant therapies in the counties in which African Americans live may be impeded by the sheer lack of availability of the providers in these areas. Perhaps the nonuse of diagnostic and adjuvant therapies is related to the great distances that African Americans must travel to seek these services, plausibly outside their own residential counties," the authors write. "This may serve as an impediment to seeking these services despite the best intentions of referring physicians and surgeons."

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