OAK BROOK, Ill.—In recognition of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, GIE: Gastrointestinal Endoscopy has published a special issue for March on colorectal cancer. The issue includes a study describing innovative efforts to increase colorectal-cancer screening rates in the Alaska Native population. The Alaskan native population experiences twice the incidence and death rate from colorectal cancer than the U.S. white population.
As a result of ongoing efforts, statewide Alaska Native colorectal cancer screening rates increased from 29 percent in 2000 to 41 percent in 2005 before the initiation of these efforts and increased to 55 percent in 2010. GIE: Gastrointestinal Endoscopy is the monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE).
“The last frontier: innovative efforts to reduce colorectal cancer disparities among the remote Alaska Native population"
Among the Alaska Native (AN) population, cancer is the leading cause of death, and colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer death. For the period 2004 to 2008, the AN age-adjusted CRC mortality and incidence rates were about twice those of the U.S. white population. The AN population also has the highest CRC incidence of all Native American groups, with a CRC incidence that is nearly five times higher than that of American Indians living in the U.S. Indian Health Services Southwest Region.
The reasons for these regional disparities are unclear; nonetheless, the morbidity and mortality of CRC can be reduced in all regions by population-based screening and surveillance programs that include endoscopy (colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy) and fecal occult blood tests. Screening can detect advanced neoplasia (polyps and cancer) and, in the case of endoscopy, can even prevent cancer by removing precancerous polyps.