Terrance Howard

Actor Terrance Howard's mother died from colon cancer at 56.

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum and is the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States for both men and women, accounting for over 50,000 deaths a year.

But 90 percent of all colorectal cancer cases and deaths are preventable by removing polyps and cancer can be successfully treated — and often cured — when detected early.

That is why screening for prevention and early detection is so important. All men and women are at risk for colorectal cancer. Some people are at higher risk for the disease because of age, lifestyle or personal and family medical history.

According to studies, Blacks are at a higher risk for the disease than other populations. Routine screening tests can help prevent colorectal cancer and can detect the disease in its early stages when it is more easily treated. Starting at age 50, men and women at average risk for colorectal cancer should begin routine screening tests.

Research findings indicate, however, that Blacks are at a younger age than any other population when diagnosed with colorectal cancer. As a result, experts suggest that Blacks get screened beginning at age 45. If you have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, colorectal polyps or inflammatory bowel disease, talk with your health care professional.

You may need to be tested earlier or more frequently. Polyps are grapelike growths on the lining of the colon or rectum that may become cancer. These polyps can be removed to prevent cancer from occurring. Colonoscopy, when performed by a well-trained endoscopist, gastroenterologist or surgeon, is the most effective screening test.

Colonoscopy also plays an important role in colorectal cancer prevention, because precancerous polyps can be removed when they are discovered during the procedure.


• The rate of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer is higher among Blacks than among any other population group in the United States.

• Death rates from colorectal cancer are higher among Blacks than any other population group in the United States.

• Experts suggest that Blacks get screened beginning at age 45.

• Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among Blacks, with more than 18,110 cases estimated to be diagnosed in 2013. Approximately 6,850 deaths among Blacks are expected to occur in 2013.

• There is evidence that Blacks are less likely than Caucasians to have screening tests for colorectal cancer.

• Blacks are less likely than Caucasians to have colorectal polyps detected at a time when they can easily be removed.

• Blacks are more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in advanced stages when there are fewer treatment options available. They are less likely to live five or more years after being diagnosed with colorectal cancer than other populations.

• Diet, tobacco use and a lack of access to equal medical treatment options may increase African-Americans’ risk of developing colorectal cancer.

• There may also be genetic factors that contribute to the higher incidence of colorectal cancer among some Blacks. Learn your family’s medical history and tell your health care professional if a relative — parent, brother, sister or child — has had colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.

• Blacks women have the same probability of getting colorectal cancer as men, and are more likely to die of colorectal cancer than are women of any other population group.

• Blacks patients experience a larger number of polyps on the right side of the colon, versus the left. A screening endoscopy must cover the entire colon, as is.

The American Society of gastrointestinal endoscopy contributed to the compilation of this report.

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