Blacks Have Higher Rate of Colon Polyps

Black individuals have a higher rate of colon polyps (larger than 9 mm) than white individuals, as found on screening colonoscopy. These results were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that is highly preventable or curable in early stages through screening. In a majority of cases, colon cancer is thought to develop from small growths, or polyps, in the colon. The larger the polyp, the more likely it will eventually become cancerous. Removal of polyps during a colonoscopy is a critical component to preventing colorectal cancer from ever developing.?

Differences in outcomes among cancer patients of different race and gender have recently come to the forefront of cancer research. These differences, if identified, may ultimately play an important part in screening for various cancers. Data has recently revealed that black individuals have a higher incidence and mortality rate from colorectal cancer than white individuals, a statistic that is being evaluated with ongoing research.

Researchers from Portland recently conducted a clinical study to compare outcomes of screening colonoscopies between black and white individuals. The data from this study was collected from 67 gastrointestinal clinics in the United States between 2004 and 2005. Overall, over 80,000 white and nearly 5,500 black individuals who did not have symptoms of colorectal cancer underwent a screening colonoscopy. Both black women and black men had a higher incidence of polyps that were larger than 9 mm in diameter compared with white men and women.

These results indicate that screening colonoscopy provides an important step in screening for colorectal cancer among black individuals, as they appear to have a greater incidence of large colon polyps compared to white individuals. All individuals should speak with their healthcare provider regarding their individual risks and benefits of screening for colorectal cancer.

Reference: Lieberman D, Holub J, Moravec M, et al. Prevalence of Colon Polyps Detected by Colonoscopy Screening in Asymptomatic Black and White Patients. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2008;300:1417-1422.

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