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According to a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, African Americans are far less likely than Caucasians to have a follow-up colonoscopy after receiving atypical results on a flexible sigmoidoscopy screening test.
Lead author Adeyinka Laiyemo and his colleagues believe the disparity may be responsible for African Americans having a higher colorectal cancer mortality rate.
In the study, the research team recruited 60,572 participants of varying ethnicities and had them undergo flexible sigmoidoscopy screenings between November 1993 and July 2001. Following the initial exam, a total of 13,743 Caucasian and 767 African American men and women were referred to their own doctor after receiving abnormal test results.
Of that group, nearly 73 percent of Caucasian patients saw their physician and had a colonoscopy, while only 62 percent of African Americans did the same. Laiyemo found no statistical difference in the prevalence of polyps or the incidence of colorectal cancer between the two groups.
The findings "suggest that the biology of colorectal cancer may not be materially different by race, at least in the early stages of carcinogenesis, but instead that healthcare utilization differences among the races may play a more important role in the observed disparities in colorectal cancer," concluded Laiyemo.
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