Early-onset colorectal cancer rates on the rise in white people


DENVER (KDVR) — Trends in early-onset colorectal cancer incidence rates across the country are raising questions as equity becomes a more prominent feature of health data analysis.   

Historically, the rate at which Black people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer has been much higher when compared to white people. However, a long-running study that utilizes the United States SEER Cancer Database has revealed that this may soon change.  

Despite becoming virtually equivalent when viewed through the scope of the study heralded by the JAMA Network, the 2014 colorectal cancer rates of both the Black and white populations across the United States have been diverging at vastly different rates.

The detection of colorectal cancer in white patients between the ages of 40 and 50 is on a steady rise when compared to the incidence rate for the Black population of the same age range.

According to their findings, rectal cancer incidence rates for Black individuals in this age group are 39.3% lower than their white counterparts. Although, colon cancer, which is not the same as rectal cancer, still remains a more prominent problem for Black members of the community.

Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology at Denver Health Medical Center and Associate Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Jordan Karlitz, M.D., attributes this occurrence to a change in health screening implemented nearly 14 years ago when the A.C.G. changed the age for Black individuals from 50 to 45.

“The hope is that by offering a uniform age 45 screening threshold to all patients, rising colorectal cancer rates in this age group can be curtailed,” said Dr. Karlitz.

Another major player in the fight against the disease, the United States Preventative Service Task Force, made a point earlier in the year to recommend that all individuals who may not be considered “average-risk,” regardless of sex and race, receive a colorectal health screening by the age of 45.

Despite the rise in white individuals of this age group being diagnosed with early-onset colorectal cancer, there remains a higher number of Black individuals in older age groups that require ongoing attention.

It is important to stay on the front foot with this subject, so if you would like to schedule a colon cancer screening, which you can do before the age of the suggested age of 45, visit Denver Health’s screening homepage.


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