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Geography may help racial colon cancer testing disparity

Category: Colon

The geographic area where a person lives may play a bigger role in determining whether or not they will have access to colon cancer testing than their race, according to a new study from University of California researchers.

The study paints a more complicated picture than earlier investigations revealed. It has long been known that racial factors play a role in whether someone will receive colon cancer testing. However, this is the first to show that geography also plays a part.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 53,000 Medicare enrollees from across the country. While whites were found to be screened for the condition more frequently than minorities and at the same rate across all regions, the team found that testing rates varied much greater for minorities from region to region.

For example, Hawaii was the only state in which Pacific Islanders and Asians had higher colon cancer testing rates than whites. Similarly African American testing rates were similar to those of whites in Iowa. However, testing rates for these two groups were much lower in other areas.

The researchers said that understanding the reasons for these differences may help larger numbers of people access colon cancer testing.

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