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Colorectal cancer screening

This article was originally published in The Gray Sheet

Executive Summary

Results of a study of more than 60,000 people screened for colorectal cancer, published on the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Web site April 6, show that African-Americans and Caucasians are equally likely to need a follow-up colonoscopy after a screening sigmoidoscopy, but that the former group is less likely to actually receive follow-up. In the U.S., colorectal cancer disproportionately affects black patients, who have a higher incidence and mortality rates. Of the 60,572 patients in the study, who are part of the larger Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Screening Trial, 23.6% of whites and 25.5% of blacks had abnormal results following flexible sigmoidoscopy. Of those subjects, 72.4% of whites and 62.6% of blacks received a follow-up colonoscopy. According to the study authors, the lower follow-up rates for blacks could be due to lower socioeconomic status. During a recent meeting at the National Institutes of Health, speakers cited high cost and lack of access to care among the barriers to colorectal cancer screening (1"The Gray Sheet" Feb. 8, 2010)

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