Study: Death Rate From Colorectal Cancer Higher for Rural Blacks

Study: Death Rate From Colorectal Cancer Higher for Rural Blacks


Rural Blacks are more likely to develop and to die from colorectal cancer than are rural Whites, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Penn State University College of Medicine.

The study, presented last month at the Digestive Diseases Week meeting in Orlando, Fla., found that Blacks were 18 percent more likely than Whites to have proximal, or upper, colon cancer.

But Blacks were 33 percent more likely to die from the cancer, perhaps because they were not diagnosed until the disease had already progressed. Blacks with colon cancer were 56 percent more likely to have it diagnosed at a later stage than were Whites, and patients with late-stage diagnoses have just a 9 percent survival rate.

“This study reveals that African Americans are more likely to have advanced-stage disease, which may be in part due to a screening disparity, leading to a delay in the detection of colon cancer, and a lower likelihood of recovery,” says Dr. James Hobley, an instructor at the medical college and one of the authors of the study.

Researchers Gene Lengerich, Kaya M.M. Fox and Thomas McGarrity, all of Penn State’s College of Medicine, worked on the study, which examined data from tens of thousands of colorectal cancer cases in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky from 1994 through 1998.

Previous studies have shown that Blacks are more likely than Whites to die from cancer, but a study published last summer in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that disparity disappears when Blacks and Whites get similar medical treatment.

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