Latinos have made great strides in getting screened for breast cancer – but when it comes to colon cancer it’s a different story.
They are less likely than whites to get screened for cancer in the rectum, particularly when they have a family history of it, according to a recent study. Researchers are unsure why they are not getting regular colon checkups.
"It seems very plausible that this is not happening for Latinos because of access barriers and language barriers," Heather Orom, who studies racial disparities in cancer at the University at Buffalo, told Reuters. “We don't know if those messages about family history and risk are resonating culturally with Latinos."
Despite being one of the most preventable kinds of cancer, more than 50,000 people die from colon cancer every year, according to the Colon Cancer Foundation. Most of the deaths are because people aren’t getting screened for colon cancer and find out they have it when it’s too late.
The study surveyed 30,000 Californians over 65 years old. They were asked how often they were screened for colon cancer and their family history of the disease. Women are supposed to get screened every two years after 40, and after 50 both men and women should get tested every one, five or 10 years, depending on the method.
The study found 51 percent of adults with no family history got screened for colon cancer, and 71 percent with a family history got screened for it. By comparison, the study found, 76 percent of women with no family history were screened for breast cancer, while 84 percent of those with a family history were screened for the disease.
Researchers are now trying to figure out the reason for the disparity.