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Survival rates from early-onset colorectal cancer from 1992 to 2013 improved for Whites, but not for Blacks, Hispanics or Asians

The 5-year survival for adults with early-onset colorectal cancer (diagnosed younger than age 50) improved for White, but not Black, Hispanic or Asian patients between 1992 and 2013, according to a new analysis.

Researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 33,000 patients diagnosed between 1992 and 2013 and found that 5-year relative survival ranged from 69.1% for White patients to 57.6% for Black patients.

Survival was lowest for Black men (56.5%) and highest for White women (70.6%). Even with localized disease, disparities persisted, with 94.2% of White patients vs 90.2% of Black patients surviving for 5 years.

Disparities in colorectal cancer survival are well documented in older adults, but younger adults are a growing yet less-studied proportion of those diagnosed. Scientists are still seeking reasons for racial and ethnic disparities in this disease, but believe they may include employment; insurance status; income and education level; behaviors (eg, tobacco, alcohol, diet); environment (eg, rural or urban); social support; and cultural factors.

“With recommendations now that colorectal cancer screening start at age 45 vs 50, one concern is whether health disparities will worsen as a result,” said Timothy Zaki, MD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

“If more are screened who have the means and inclination to do so—but we fail to make progress in other populations—we could see these gaps widening.”

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