In the 1970s the occurrences of colon cancer were equal for blacks and whites. Then in the mid-1970s blacks began to show higher rates of colon cancer, with a large jump in black mortality rates in the 1980’s. The American Cancer Society stated that current instances of colon cancer are 50 percent higher in blacks than in whites.
Experts blame this trend on the lower rates of screening among blacks as compared to whites, and less access to quality healthcare. Physicians have encouraged colon screening as a way to early diagnose any colon problems, including colon cancer. Currently the screening rate for whites is 50 percent compared to 40 percent for blacks.
Yet if this were the reason for the widening gap then Hispanics, who traditionally undergo even less regular screening and have lower quality healthcare than blacks, would have higher rates of colon cancer than blacks. But in reality Hispanics are less susceptible to colon cancer than both blacks and whites, despite a screening rate of only 32 percent.
This paradoxical lower death rate is not unique to colon cancer. Researchers have found that poorly insured Hispanics have fared better than whites and blacks in several measures of cancer and heart disease.
Physicians admit that there is no reasonable explanation for the disparity in the rate of colon cancer deaths among whites, blacks and Hispanics. However, physicians recommend that everyone get regular check ups and colonoscopy exams from age 50 and up.