NEW YORK, N.Y.—Blacks and Hispanics have a significantly higher risk of developing precancerous colorectal polyps compared with whites, according to a study by researchers at NewYork – Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. The findings appeared recently in the online edition of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
“Our data suggest that we need to redouble our efforts to increase colon cancer screening in areas with large numbers of racial and ethnic minorities," said lead author Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, MS, assistant professor of clinical medicine and epidemiology at NewYork – Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
The study also found that blacks and Hispanics have a higher risk of developing polyps in the upper portion of the colon, compared with whites. “These lesions would have been missed had these patients undergone sigmoidoscopy, which examines only the lower half of the colon," said Dr. Lebwohl. “Therefore, colonoscopy, which examines the entire colon, may be preferable to sigmoidoscopy as a screening test for blacks and Hispanics."
Colorectal cancer caused an estimated 51,370 deaths in 2010—the last year for which data are available. This type of cancer is largely preventable if caught early, in the form of precancerous polyps, or adenomas. Such polyps are effectively treated with removal during colonoscopy.
The researchers looked at rates of advanced adenomas—polyps 10 mm or larger that exhibited aggressive features under microscopic examination. “These are the kinds of polyps that we are most concerned may eventually develop into cancer," said Fay Kastrinos, MD, MPH, assistant professor of clinical medicine at NewYork – Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and senior author of the study. “We found that blacks and Hispanics were roughly twice as likely to have advanced adenomas, compared with whites, after adjusting for factors such as age and family history."