How Race Impacts Colon Cancer Incidence, Mortality

African Americans, especially under 50, are at higher risk of being diagnosed with colon cancer and dying from the disease than Caucasian Americans, according to a new study from Colorectal Cancer .

The average lifetime risk of colon cancer is one in 20, but colon cancer risk varies among races and ethnicities. Race has a profound influence on colon cancer survival rates. African Americans are more likely to develop the disease and die from it.

African Americans Under 50 at Greatest Risk

In cooperation with the Medical University of South Carolina, Kristen Wallace et al. studied more than 1,000 patients diagnosed with colon cancer for survival based on race and risk of death in two age groups: patients under 50 and those over 50.

African Americans under 50 were more likely to die of colon cancer than Caucasian Americans under 50. In patients over the age of 50, race did not affect colon cancer survival rates. The study also discovered tumor location played an important role in colon cancer survival in younger African Americans.

The study’s authors hope the results will help doctors target patients who require aggressive treatment and monitoring. They also say they must do further research on how the location of colon tumors influences patients’ responses to treatment.

Young-Onset Colon Cancer Incidence is Rising

According to a 2019 article in Cancer, young-onset colon cancer in the United States is rising. One out of every three new cases of colorectal cancer at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is in a patient between the ages of 18 and 50. Young colorectal cancer patients are more likely to be diagnosed in stage 3 or 4 because they are unaware of the disease’s signs and symptoms (The Scientist ).

Schedule Your Colonoscopy to Prevent Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States. In 2020, an estimated 104,610 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer and 43,340 will be diagnosed with rectal cancer (American Cancer Society ).

Most cases of colon cancer are preventable through routine colonoscopies. Colonoscopy is the gold standard of colon cancer prevention because it can detect and prevent colon cancer in a single procedure. Your doctor can remove any suspicious polyps before they can develop into cancer, making a colonoscopy a life-saving screening.

The American Cancer Society’s  colon cancer screening guidelines suggest adults begin screening at age 45. However, individuals with a family history of colon cancer should get screened earlier. Talk to your doctor about when you should get screened for colon cancer.