Colon Cancer Mortality Gap Between Blacks, Whites Widening

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The gap in colon cancer mortality between blacks and whites has been widening over the last two decades, in part because of blacks' lower screening rates and poorer access to care, according to an American Cancer Society report released on Monday, the AP/Dallas Morning News reports. Blacks' and whites' colon cancer mortality rate was nearly equal in the mid-1970s, but by the 1980s blacks had higher death rates from the disease.

In 2005, there were about 25 deaths per 100,000 people for blacks, compared with 17 per 100,000 for whites -- a 48% difference, according to the report (Stobbe, AP/Dallas Morning News, 12/14). Colon cancer death rates overall were on the decline among all racial and ethnic groups in 2005, according to the report.

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In the five-year period leading up to 2005, blacks were 20% more likely than whites to be diagnosed with the disease, the report found. Blacks are less likely to be screened for colon cancer and more likely to be diagnosed with the disease after it has spread to other parts of the body, the report said (Dunham, Reuters, 12/15). Forty percent of blacks are screened for the disease, compared with 50% of whites (AP/Dallas Morning News, 12/14). Blacks also are less likely to receive recommended treatment and therapy for colon cancer, according to the report (Reuters, 12/15).

Elizabeth Ward, co-author of the report and managing director of surveillance and health policy at ACS, said, "We have seen this enormous progress in whites," and "[w]e could be seeing the same progress in blacks if we could overcome disparities in access to health care" (AP/Dallas Morning News, 12/14).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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