Study Finds Colorectal Cancer More Likely to Affect Minorities at Younger Age

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Jamal Ibdah, MD, PhD

Researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine reported that minority and ethnic groups are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer at younger ages and more advanced stages than non-Hispanic whites. The study was recently published in Cancer Medicine.1

“While we know the risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age, little is known about its prevalence within various minority and ethnic groups,” said Jamal Ibdah, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and ­Raymond E. and Vaona H. Peck Chair in Cancer Research at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. Dr. Ibdah’s research team used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) databases to analyze the prevalence, stage, and survival rates for colorectal cancer diagnoses in the United States based on race and ethnicity from 1973 to 2009.

Study Findings 

“We found that minorities under the age of 50 were twice as likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer compared to non-Hispanic whites,” said Dr. Ibdah, who also serves as Director of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. “On average, minorities were diagnosed between the ages of 64 and 68, while non-Hispanic whites were typically diagnosed at age 72. When diagnosed, minority groups also had more advanced stages of cancer.”

There are several issues that could influence the development of colorectal cancer at a younger age, such as hereditary and environmental factors, diet, and lifestyle. Dr. Ibdah said that possible reasons for advanced-stage diagnosis among minorities may include lower screening rates, lower income levels, and reduced access to education and health care.

“Regular screening for colorectal cancer is essential for prevention and early diagnosis,” Dr. Ibdah said.

Further studies are needed to examine current guidelines for all minority groups in the United States and the development of possible new interventional strategies.

“Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, Alaska Native, and African American populations are the fastest-growing racial and ethnic minority groups in the United States. Having the most accurate statistical data is critical to providing cancer prevention and control programs for these groups,” Dr. Ibdah said. ■


1. Rahman R, Schmaltz C, Jackson CS, et al: Increased risk for colorectal cancer under age 50 in racial and ethnic minorities living in the United States. Cancer Med. October 16, 2015 (early release online).