Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of death in
the United States. It is second only to lung cancer as a
killer of Americans. Screening for colorectal cancer (including
colonoscopies) can be effective in identifying and removing
pre-cancerous tissue, avoiding diagnosis at a later, less treatable
stage in the disease.
In addition to a person’s race or ethnicity, where they live can
matter in terms of whether they are diagnosed at a late stage for
colorectal cancer., revealed a recent study led by a researcher at
the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.
‘Cancer patients who live in highly segregated Asian communities are relatively more likely to receive a late diagnosis of colorectal cancer. By contrast, cancer patients living in highly segregated African American communities are less likely to be diagnosed at a late stage.’
The study finds that cancer patients who live in highly segregated
Asian communities (mostly in coastal California) are relatively more
likely to receive a late diagnosis of colorectal cancer. By contrast,
cancer patients living in highly segregated African American communities
(mostly large urban areas and the Sun Belt) are less likely to be
diagnosed at a late stage.
The timing of diagnosis is important because when cancer is
diagnosed at a late stage it is more difficult to treat and outcomes are
not as good. The Georgia State study contrasts two approaches that have
been used to examine the effects of place of residence on these
When considering another aspect – whether people are living in
segregated places among others of their same race or ethnicity – there
was a slight protective effect, with lower likelihood of being diagnosed
at late stage. The researchers concluded that in some cases,
communities that are segregated by race may be more cohesive and may
offer support in encouraging fellow community members to get tested.
The results are published in a paper titled “Using residential
segregation to predict colorectal cancer stage at diagnosis: two
different approaches,” in the Annals of Epidemiology. The study’s
lead author is Dr. Lee Rivers Mobley, associate professor of Health
Management & Policy at the School of Public Health.
Researchers analyzed data from the Unites States Cancer Statistics
database, focusing on more than 500,000 newly diagnosed colorectal
cancer cases for 40 states from 2004-2009.
The researchers conducted a literature review and found numerous
examples of campaigns designed to encourage urban populations,
especially minority, low-income and non-English speakers, to be tested,
and few examples of campaigns targeting rural residents. They found no
examples of campaigns targeted at Asian Americans and suggested such
efforts may be warranted in the San Francisco Bay area, where
researchers found a relatively high rate of diagnosis of late-stage