Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women in the United States, accounting for more than 50,000 deaths each year. For Black Americans, there are significant disparities in the occurrence and outcomes of colorectal cancer. Compared to White individuals, Black individuals have a 20% higher incidence of colorectal cancer and are more likely to die from the disease. They are also more likely to develop colorectal cancer at younger ages and be diagnosed further along in their illness.
Most colorectal cases and deaths are preventable when detected and treated early. However, socioeconomic status, healthcare access, and trust in the healthcare system prevent many Black individuals from routine screenings and appropriate treatment.
Predicting colorectal cancer prognosis for individual patients is not only imprecise, but it is also biased. There are several different colorectal cancer survival calculators. These calculators can be problematic because they do not use the same variables and some calculators have race-based adjustments that are not substantiated by medical science. These calculators may influence treatment and the overall outcome for a patient. In some cases, clinicians might be more or less likely to offer interventions to patients with lower predicted survival rates.
To close the gaps on colorectal cancer, improvements in racial inequalities and systemic racism is needed. While significant progress in this area is expected in the coming years, here are a few basic measures that can be taken:
- Addressing preventative and modifiable factors like smoking and obesity.
- Utilizing local data to implement programs and policy changes at a city level to reduce environmental hazards (more than 80% of invasive cancer cases occur within urban areas).
- Increase accessibility to colon cancer screenings, especially for those at high risk or 45 years of age and older.
Early detection is the best way to increase the odds of finding and treating colorectal cancer when it’s most curable. TruLite Health’s Truity platform gives physicians insights into a patient’s risk factors based upon our personalized health equity matching technology and brings forward this information into the clinical encounter. Research-based education is also provided, giving physicians the tools, they need to treat all patients equally. To learn more, visit trulitehealth.com.