ORLANDO, FLA. — Colorectal cancer occurs at a high enough rate in African Americans and Hispanics under 50 years of age to warrant screening starting at age 40, according to Jaydutt Vadgama, Ph.D., of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles.
In a retrospective study, Dr. Vadgama found that of 148 patients who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer at the Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center during 1996–2004, 38 (26%) were younger than 50 years of age. At diagnosis, the 38 patients had a median age of 42 years. Half of the patients under age 50 had a family history of colorectal cancer.
During 1993–1997, 46% of the 11,615 cases of colorectal cancer in African Americans and Hispanics in California occurred in patients younger than 50 years.
“Colorectal cancer screening should be considered in African Americans and Hispanics beginning at age 40 regardless of family history,” the researchers suggested in a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.
The college's guidelines on colorectal cancer screening, published in 2000, recommend that patients at higher than average risk for colorectal cancer should be screened by colonoscopy at an age of 40 years or 10 years younger than the age of the youngest affected relative at diagnosis, whichever is earlier.