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Today’s blog in our Young and Brave series emphasizes the increased risk for colorectal cancer under the age of 50 years in racial and ethnic minorities living in the United States. After reviewing SEER and NAACCR data, researchers published their findings in Cancer Medicine and found that racial and ethnic minorities suffer at higher rates from colorectal cancer.

What do the statistics show?

  • While colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in the United States for both males and females, there are noticeable disparities in minority populations.
  • African Americans are reported to have the highest overall incidence of colorectal cancer, highest incidence of being diagnosed at an advanced stage, highest mortality related to CRC, and lowest survival rates compared across all other racial and ethnic groups. 
  • In Hispanic populations, colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of both cancer incidence and cancer death.
  • Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer incidence and cancer death in Asian and Pacific Islanders and in Native Americans and Alaskan Natives as well.

Statistics for young onset colorectal cancer (under age 50):

  • Researchers found that racial and ethnic minorities are diagnosed with colorectal cancer at much earlier ages and diagnosed at more advanced stages compared to non-Hispanic whites.
  • Nearly 11.9% of African Americans, 12% of Asians/Pacific Islanders, 15.4% of Hispanics, and 16.5% of American Indians are diagnosed before the age of 50 years with young onset CRC compared to only 6.7% of Whites.
  • Looking at the 5-year survival rates for those diagnosed with young onset CRC, African Americans and Hispanics have a significantly lower rate than Whites. 

What do these numbers mean?

These numbers show us that specific communities are affected by colorectal cancer at a disproportionate rate than others. Based on this information, there is a need to address these health disparities and prioritize interventions and resources on groups who are at the most risk. In response to this article, Medical Adviser and Senior Patient Advocate and young survivor Dr. Laura Porter said, “We know that in general African Americans have poorer outcomes with CRC regardless of the stage at diagnosis.  It makes sense that it would be the same for young onset.  What I find alarming is that the percentages in minority populations diagnosed under 50 are so much higher, at least 2 times, that of whites.  It has been recommended that African Americans start screening at 45 but these have not been incorporated into the national guidelines.  This is not the answer but a start at addressing the disparities.”


Want to learn more about colon cancer symptoms? Check out our website for a detailed list of common symptoms. Are you experiencing symptoms but can’t afford a colonoscopy? Through our Blue Hope Financial Assistance Program, we are able to offer no-cost colonoscopies to qualified individuals.  

Our monthly Young & Brave blog series brings you the information you need to know about the latest in young-onset colon cancer. Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have questions or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030


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