Colon Cancer Risk In African Americans

Race matters in colon cancer screening.  African Americans have the highest rates of colon cancer among all ethnic groups. As an African-American gastroenterologist in New York City, this is an especially painful pill to swallow. There are many factors that may contribute to higher colon cancer rates.  Some believe that there are environmental factors and some believe there may be differences in the tumor biology. However, there is evidence that access to screening colonoscopies a key factor.  The American College of Gastroenterology and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy recommend that colorectal cancer screening begin at age 45 in African Americans. They also insist that the best screening test is colonoscopy. The colon cancer screening message remains the same – everyone should be screened for colon cancer.  However, I would add that African Americans should consider early screening. To all those on the fence about getting that colonoscopy, “It is not too late, don’t wait!”

- Dr. Gustave

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