Persisting Racial Disparities in Colonoscopy Screening of Persons with a Family History of Colorectal Cancer

Meng Han Tsai, Sudha Xirasagar, Piet C. de Groen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


With 23 and 47% higher colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and mortality, respectively, among African Americans vs. Whites, CRC screening studies are important. Screening guidelines recommend 5-yearly colonoscopy screening of persons with a family history of CRC (first-degree relatives, FDRs), beginning at 40 years of age. For this elevated-risk group, colonoscopy screening is preferred because of the risk of more aggressive cancer that may elude early detection by other methods. African Americans with a family history of CRC are at the intersection of two elevated risk demographics, race and FDR status. This study explored racial disparities in colonoscopy screening of FDRs using 2005, 2010, and 2015 national survey data on 3220 Whites and 466 African Americans. Despite increasing colonoscopy rates among FDRs (72.3 and 62.2% in 2015 among Whites and African Americans, respectively), the 40–49 age group showed substantial racial disparities each year, persisting through 2015 (58.8, 31.7, and 35.3% lower among African Americans in 2005, 2010, and 2015, respectively). Adjusted analysis of the pooled 3-year sample showed that FDRs aged 40–49 years had one-third the colonoscopy likelihood of the 50-plus age group. African Americans without college education were 40 and 60% less likely than Whites without college and with college education, respectively, to have had a colonoscopy. The sustained, high screening disparity, and low colonoscopy rates in the 40–49 age group overall, call for novel approaches to reduce CRC mortality disparities, such as, patient navigation programs to reach out to younger FDRs, particularly, less educated African Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of racial and ethnic health disparities
StateAccepted/In press - Aug 15 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • African American
  • Cancer prevention
  • Colonoscopy
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Family history
  • Health disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Anthropology
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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