Blacks, Hispanics Have Higher Colon Polyp Risk Than Previously Thought

Their rate of the precancerous colon growths was higher than that of whites, study finds

Topics: Cancer: Colon Cancer: Misc Cancer: Rectal Colonoscopy Race Screening

TUESDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- Black and Hispanic Americans are far more likely than whites to develop precancerous colorectal polyps, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 5,000 men and women aged 50 and older who had a first-time colonoscopy screening at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in New York City between 2006 and 2010. None of the patients had signs or symptoms of colorectal (colon) cancer at the time of the screening.

At least one precancerous polyp was detected in 26 percent of blacks, 22 percent of Hispanics and 19 percent of whites.

The findings run counter to current statistics showing that Hispanics have a lower rate of colon cancer than whites, and adds to recent evidence that the rate of colorectal cancer among Hispanics may be increasing as they adopt more mainstream American lifestyle habits, the researchers said.

The study also found that blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to develop polyps in the upper portion of the colon.

"These lesions would have been missed had these patients undergone sigmoidoscopy, which examines only the lower half of the colon," lead author Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl, an assistant professor of clinical medicine and epidemiology at Columbia, said in a university news release. "Therefore, colonoscopy, which examines the entire colon, may be preferable to sigmoidoscopy as a screening test for blacks and Hispanics."

The study was published online recently in the journal 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," Lebwohl said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about colorectal cancer screening.

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.