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Family History Plays Role in Black Colon Screen Rates

Reason unclear, but study says doctor recommendation key to higher participation

MONDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- Blacks with a family history of colorectal cancer are less likely to be screened than either their white counterparts or other blacks at average risk for the disease, a new study reports.

The authors of the study, published in the July 15 issue of Cancer, couldn't find a clear reason why this was, even though blacks have the highest rates of colorectal cancer and death from the disease of all racial groups in the United States.

Their research, based on a 2002 telephone survey of more than 5,000 Maryland residents, did find that a medical provider's recommendation for colorectal cancer screening strongly correlated with a higher likelihood of screening for blacks.

"This study suggests that African-Americans would benefit from a primary-care approach that evaluates their risk factors for colorectal cancer, and provides corresponding recommendations for appropriate screening tests," the authors wrote.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed and the third leading cause of cancer-related death among adults in United States. Regular colorectal cancer screening is considered vital in preventing colorectal cancer, especially when there is a family history of the disease.

The American Cancer Society recommends that most people should start being screened for colorectal cancer at age 50. Experts in the disease estimate following national screening guidelines could prevent up to eight in 10 deaths from the disease.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about colorectal cancer.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, June 9, 2008

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