Racial Paradox in Colorectal Cancer

Advanced colorectal neoplasia more common in white men than in black men

(RxWiki News) Black men are at higher risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer than white men. But when it comes to pre-cancerous growths, just the opposite is true.

White men are more likely than black men to have colorectal growths that can lead to cancer, according to a new study.

These pre-cancerous growths are called advanced colorectal neoplasia (ACN) and are a risk factor for colorectal cancer.

This new research also showed that these trends are not seen in women.

"Get screened for colorectal cancer."

The study was led by Paul C. Schroy III, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine and director of clinical research for the Section of Gastroenterology at Boston Medical Center.

Dr. Schroy and colleagues looked at the results of colonoscopy screenings for 1,172 white people and 1,681 black people between the ages of 50 and 79. The screenings were conducted between March 2005 and January 2012.

The goal of the study was to see if differences were the result of genetic or biological factors or access to screening.

Colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in an estimated 143,000 Americans this year. The disease will cause some 51,000 deaths in 2013.

In this study, ACNs were found in 6.8 percent of white people and 5 percent of black people.

The differences were higher between the sexes, with 9.3 percent of white men having ACNs compared with 5.7 percent of black men.

After controlling for other risk factors, the researchers found that black men were 41 percent less likely than white men to have ACNs.

There was no statistical difference found in women of both races.

"Disparities in access to screening and differential exposure to modifiable risk factors [such as diet, obesity, smoking, exercise] rather than genetic or biological factors may be largely responsible for the higher incidence of [colorectal cancer] among black men," the authors concluded.

This study was published July 1 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The National Cancer Institute funded the study. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
July 1, 2013