Despite the progress that’s been made in death rates from colorectal cancer in the U.S. a racial gap still exists – black men and women are 45 percent more likely to die from the disease than whites.
That news comes from the American Cancer Society in its Facts and Figures report.
The racial gap was seen during the last report, issued in 2005.
Then the difference for colorectal cancer incidence between white and black men was 9.8.
This new report says the gap has widened with the cancer incidence nearly 59 per 100,000 for white men and 71 per 100,000 for black men – a difference of 12.3.
This year almost 149,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer about 49,000 of them will die from the disease, reports US News.
Colorectal cancer is the third leading cancer that leads to deaths in this country, but the outcomes could be increasingly improved with screening. Over the last decade, colorectal cancer incident rates have been declining rapidly and survival rates have steadily improved.
For example, beginning in the mid 1970s, compared to 1996-2004, the five-year survival rate increased from 51 percent to 65 percent.
Before 1980 – the death rate for whites from colorectal cancer was higher in white men, and for women of both races the numbers were about the same.
Since then, the racial disparity has grown wider.
Why the different outcomes? Dr. Durado Brooks, ACS director of prostate and colorectal cancer says, “Screening rates among African Americans leg significantly behind whites. If we can increase screening rates in African Americans closer to where they are in whites, we will start to see a narrowing of the gap.”
Since this latest survey, ten more states have enacted legislation that will ensure insurance coverage for colorectal cancer screening tests. There are not 26 states that fully cover it including Washington D.C.
According to the report, half of the US population over the age of 50 has not yet been tested and the numbers are even lower among minority groups or among those who do not have health insurance.
A report by the ACS issued last December, found that uninsured Americans are less likely to be screened for cancer and more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease and less likely to survive than those who are privately insured.
Risk factors for colorectal cancer include a family history of the disease, lack of physical exercise, a diet rich in animal fat and red meat, as well as processed meat, and smoking may also increase one’s risk. #