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Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer in Minority Populations

Friday, July 19, 2019

In recent decades, there has been an increase in colorectal cancer diagnoses in people who are under the age of 50. Additionally, some ethnic groups seem to be more at risk than others, according to Ana Acuna-Villaorduna, MD, Heme/Oncology fellow at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine. 

Currently, leading oncology organizations are in disagreement on when is the best time to start screening for the disease, and if certain groups should be screened earlier. However, according to recent research conducted by Acuna-Villaorduna and her team, all minority populations should be screened earlier, since they were found to have a higher incidence of early-onset colorectal cancer. 


This was a population-based study. We used the SEER database. What we did is categorize patients in different age groups. So we had what we called "standard-onset colorectal cancer," which are patients who are diagnosed at age 50 or older. These patients would be diagnosed by screening and colonoscopy. And then we had patients who were diagnosed before age 50. We categorized those into 3 groups: patients who are diagnosed between 45 and 49; patients who are [diagnosed] between 40 and 44; and 35 and 40. 

Then what we did was compared the characteristics among these different groups. The first thing that we found is that early-onset colorectal cancer has higher frequencies in all minority races, not only for African Americans, but we also saw this for Hispanics, for Asians, and for Pacific Islanders. 

So I think this is an important finding because if we are going to decrease the age to start screening colonoscopies, that should be for all minorities, not only for African Americans. 

Read more: Taking It One Step Further: How to Educate on Early Age Onset Colorectal Cancer
Young Patients With Colorectal Cancer Are Likely to Be Misdiagnosed

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