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In the News

Colon cancer screening rates found to be lower for African American Veterans

Health Day News and other media outlets reported the results of a study by researchers at the VA Greater Los Angeles (GLA) Healthcare System that found colon cancer screening rates for African American Veterans at GLA were much lower than those of other races, even though all patients have similar access to care.

The study also found that having a primary care provider greatly increased the likelihood that patients would be screened for colon cancer. Researchers looked at a random sample of 357 GLA patients who were eligible for colon cancer screening based on age—older than 45 for African Americans, and older than 50 for other races.

Overall, 50 percent of GLA patients in the study had some form of colon cancer screening. The rate among African Americans was 42 percent, compared with 58 percent for others. The use of colonoscopy for screening was also lower among African Americans, 11 percent versus 23 percent.

Other factors besides race associated with lower colon cancer screening rates were being homeless, taking more prescription drugs, having a lower level of service-connected disability, and not seeing a primary care provider within two years of screening eligibility.

Colon cancer, according to the article, is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. Blacks have the highest incidence of colon cancer, and are most likely to die from the disease.

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