The Facts African Americans Need to Know About Colon Cancer

Style News Wire | 2/20/2008, 7:29 p.m.
Each year more than 150,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with colon cancer and over 50,000 will die ...

“Colon cancer is preventable with regular screening and is curable when detected early,” said ASGE President Grace H. Elta, MD, FASGE. “All men and women are at risk for colon cancer and should begin screening for the disease at age 50. It concerns me that African Americans are being diagnosed with colon cancer at a higher rate than other populations.  This disease does not discriminate against race or gender; your age is the single most important risk factor.  I encourage African Americans to talk to their doctor about colon cancer screening.”

Colorectal cancer, also referred to as colon cancer, is cancer of the colon or rectum and is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. for men and women combined. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among African American men and women, with more than 16,000 cases estimated to be diagnosed each year and approximately 7,000 deaths annually. Some people are at a higher risk for the disease because of age, lifestyle or personal and family medical history. People who are diagnosed at early stages have a 90 percent chance of a cure and surviving. That is why screening for prevention and early detection is so important. Some studies have shown that African Americans are more frequently diagnosed with colon cancer at a younger age, leading some experts to suggest that African Americans begin screening prior to age 50.  African Americans should ask their physician about an appropriate screening schedule.

Polyps are grapelike growths on the lining of the colon or rectum that may become cancer. These polyps can be removed to prevent cancer from occurring. Colonoscopy, when performed by a well-trained endoscopist, gastroenterologist or surgeon, is the most effective screening test. Colonoscopy plays an important role in colon cancer prevention because precancerous polyps can be removed when they are discovered during the procedure.