Blacks and Hispanics Develop Precancerous Colorectal Polyps at Higher Rates Than Whites

Blacks and Hispanics have a significantly higher risk of developing precancerous colorectal polyps compared to whites, according to a study published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

In this study, researchers analyzed data on 5,075 patients (70% white, 18% Hispanic, 12% black, mean age, 62) who underwent first-time colonoscopy at NewYork – Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center from 2006 to 2010. The researchers looked at rates of adenomas, or polyps 10 mm or larger that exhibited aggressive features under microscopic examination. “These are the kinds of polyps that we are most concerned may eventually develop into cancer,” said Fay Kastrinos, MD, MPH, assistant professor of clinical medicine at NewYork – Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and senior author of the study via a press release. “We found that blacks and Hispanics were roughly twice as likely to have advanced adenomas, compared with whites, after adjusting for factors such as age and family history.”

“Surprisingly, we found that Hispanics have a slightly higher rate of precancerous polyps,” said lead author Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, MS, assistant professor of clinical medicine and epidemiology at New York – Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “This adds to other recent evidence that the rate of colorectal cancer among Hispanics may be increasing with acculturation.”

“Our data suggest that we need to redouble our efforts to increase colon cancer screening in areas with large numbers of racial and ethnic minorities,” said Dr. Lebwohl. The study also found that blacks and Hispanics have a higher risk of developing polyps in the upper portion of the colon, compared with whites. “These lesions would have been missed had these patients undergone sigmoidoscopy, which examines only the lower half of the colon,” said Dr. Lebwohl. “Therefore, colonoscopy, which examines the entire colon, may be preferable to sigmoidoscopy as a screening test for blacks and Hispanics.”