Toward the elimination of colorectal cancer disparities among African Americans

Steven S. Coughlin, Daniel S. Blumenthal, Shirley Jordan Seay, Selina A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background In the USA, race and socioeconomic status are well-known factors associated with colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates. These are higher among blacks than whites and other racial/ethnic groups. Methods In this article, we review opportunities to address disparities in colorectal cancer incidence, mortality, and survivorship among African Americans. Results First, we summarize the primary prevention of colorectal cancer and recent advances in the early detection of the disease and disparities in screening. Then, we consider blackwhite disparities in colorectal cancer treatment and survival including factors that may contribute to such disparities and the important roles played by cultural competency, patient trust in one’s physician, and health literacy in addressing colorectal cancer disparities, including the need for studies involving the use of colorectal cancer patient navigators who are culturally competent. Conclusion To reduce these disparities, intervention efforts should focus on providing high-quality screening and treatment for colorectal cancer and on educating African Americans about the value of diet, weight control, screening, and treatment. Organized approaches for delivering colorectal cancer screening should be accompanied by programs and policies that provide access to diagnostic follow-up and treatment for underserved populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-564
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • African Americans
  • Cancer survivorship
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Health status disparities
  • Prevention
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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