Hispanics Are Less Likely to Get Screened for Colon Cancer

7.1.2021

 

Colon cancer screening rates are significantly lower among Hispanic Americans than non-Hispanic whites among adults over 50, putting Hispanics at increased risk for advanced-stage colon cancer.

What Is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer is a growth that begins in the colon, also known as the large intestine. Most colon cancers start as a polyp, a tiny growth that forms in the colon's inner lining. 

Hispanics and Colon Cancer Statistics

According to the National Colon Cancer Roundtable, one in two Hispanic adults between 50 and 75 years of age are not getting tested as recommended. Because of lower screening rates, colon cancer causes about 11 percent of cancer deaths among Hispanic males and nine percent of Hispanic females.

Common Myths about Colon Cancer and Colonoscopies

There are many myths surrounding colon cancer and colon cancer screening. Often, these myths prevent people from getting screened. Here are some common misconceptions and concerns about colon cancer and colon cancer screening, along with facts about the disease and this life-saving procedure:

Myth

Truth

“I don’t need to go to the doctor because I feel fine
and don’t have symptoms of colon cancer.”

Colon cancer usually does not cause symptoms in the early stages.

“Colonoscopies take too much time. I will miss work, and I can’t afford that.”

You will only need to miss one day of work for a colonoscopy. There are also other options for colon cancer screening that do not require you to miss any work.

“A colonoscopy is too expensive.”

Insurance covers colonoscopy screenings. There are many ways to get a low-cost or free colonoscopy.

“A colonoscopy is dangerous.”

The risk of injury during a colonoscopy is low. Not getting screened at all puts you at high risk for a deadly disease.

“Doctors just want money. They don’t care about my health.”

GI physicians are focused on saving lives. Your doctor will want you to feel comfortable and confident about your upcoming procedure, so write down your questions and concerns about colon cancer screening and discuss them with your doctor.

“It’s embarrassing to get a colonoscopy.”

GI physicians and their teams are accustomed to performing colonoscopies all the time, so there's no need to be embarrassed! A colonoscopy is the best way to prevent colon cancer, and if you get a clean bill of health, you may only have to repeat the test every 10 years.

“I don’t understand the procedure. I don’t feel like I’m in control.”

Ask your provider for information, like pamphlets or websites, to help you understand more about the procedure.

Importance of Quality Colon Cancer Screening

The best way to prevent colon cancer is to get screened. The American Cancer Society suggests that all adults at average risk for colon cancer begin screening at age 45. There are two basic screening methods:

  1. Colonoscopy—A colonoscopy is the most effective screening test to prevent and detect colon cancer. This screening uses a narrow, lighted tube with a camera to view your colon and rectum. You will be asleep during the procedure. Your doctor can remove colon polyps during the exam, and this can help prevent you from getting colon cancer. If your test result is normal, you will likely not need another colonoscopy for ten years.
  2. Stool test—You can perform a stool test, such as the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), at home. A stool test may detect small amounts of blood that you cannot see. Blood in the stool can sometimes indicate colon cancer. You can receive a kit that allows you to collect a small amount of stool and send it to a lab to test it for hidden blood. If your test is positive, you will have to get a colonoscopy. Depending on the results, you may have to repeat the stool test every year.

Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death among Hispanic men and women in the US. It doesn’t have to be! Regular screening starting at age 45 can often help prevent cancer or find it early when it’s small and easier to treat.

Are you due for a colon cancer screening but don’t know where to begin? Click here to locate a fellowship-trained gastroenterologist in your area. Our doctors and nurses are kind and compassionate, and they will patiently answer your questions about colon cancer screening.

Your family loves you and wants you to live a long, healthy life. Good health begins with a colon cancer screening. Call today to make an appointment.