Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer death in the US. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2023, more than 50,000 people will die from the disease. This figure, while staggering, fails to recognize the continued differences in CRC incidence and mortality that certain populations face. For example, non-Hispanic Black individuals have higher CRC incidence (41.7 per 100,000) and mortality (17.6 per 100,000) than non-Hispanic White individuals (35.7 and 13.1 per 100,000, respectively).1 Moreover, it does little to elevate to what degree disparities in preventive screenings account for these differences.
Timely and consistent screenings are a proven method for lowering CRC incidence and mortality. Early screenings help identify CRC before it has progressed. Moreover, screenings can be preventive in nature: practitioners can remove potentially cancerous polyps found during colonoscopies. Racial disparities in access to CRC screening, however, have persisted for decades. While recent data suggests that gaps are closing, as we will discuss in this report, the data do not present the full picture.
President and CEO, NEHI
Senior Vice President of Policy Research, NEHI
Durado Brooks, MD, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Screening Business Unit, Exact Sciences
Andi Dwyer, Program Director, Colorado Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network
Beverly B. Green, MD, Ph.D., Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute
Freda Lewis Hall, Life Sciences Leader
Lisa Hall, Senior Director of Screening, Colorectal Cancer Alliance
William Lawrence, MD, MS, Senior Clinical Advisor, Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Patient-Centered Research Programs, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)
Amanda Petrik, Ph.D., Health Researcher, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research
Peter H. Schwartz, MD, PhD, Director, Indiana University Center for Bioethics