Dr. Anthony S. Robbins of the American Cancer Society and colleagues said colorectal cancer mortality rates for African-Americans were lower than those for whites before 1980 but the pattern has reversed since then. The worsening disparity in mortality rates coincided with the introduction and dissemination of screening and improved treatment for colorectal cancer, Robbins said.
The study, published in the journal of the Clinical Oncology, found mortality rates for localized stage cancer decreased 30.3 percent in whites versus 13.2 percent in African-Americans.
The data indicate black-white disparities in colorectal cancer mortality increased for each stage of the disease, but the disparity in overall mortality was largely driven by trends for late-stage disease.
"The widening racial disparity for distant stage has a disproportionate impact on overall colorectal cancer mortality disparities because distant stage accounts for approximately 60 percent the overall black-white mortality disparity," the study authors said in a statement.
Colorectal cancer mortality rates dropped in the most recent two decades for every stage in both African-Americans and whites, but the decreases were smaller for African-Americans, particularly for the latest stage cancer, Robbins said.