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U.S. Blacks More Likely to Die of Colon Cancer Than Whites: Study
Date:12/30/2011

FRIDAY, Dec. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Although colorectal cancer death rates in the United States have fallen across the board over the last 20 years, the dip has been smaller among blacks than whites, a new study indicates.

Specifically, the racial spread in death rate trends appears to be most notable among patients diagnosed with the most advanced stage of the disease, according to the results of an investigation by the American Cancer Society (ACS).

"The widening racial disparity for [advanced]-stage has a disproportionate impact on overall colorectal cancer mortality disparities because [advanced]-stage accounts for approximately 60 percent of the overall black-white mortality disparity," the study authors explained in an ACS news release.

The study team, led by Dr. Anthony Robbins, pointed out that up until 1980, black Americans were actually less likely to die from colorectal cancer overall than whites. Since then, however, the availability of ever-better screening and treatment options has turned that dynamic on its head. The result: by 2007, the rate of death among blacks was 44 percent greater than that among whites.

The reason, the authors suggested, may be that black patients do not seem to be getting screened or treated as often and as aggressively as white patients.

The aim of the current ACS study was to find out how exactly racial differences in plummeting death rates have been playing out with respect to disease progression: namely, early-stage (in which cancer is localized); mid-stage (in which cancer has spread to regional lymph nodes); and late-stage (in which the cancer is made its way throughout the patient's body).

To explore that question, the team analyzed two decades of information that had already been gathered by the U.S. National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program database.

The review, released online Dec. 19 in advance of print
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