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Minorities and colorectal cancer screening: Phone them and they will come

Telephone outreach can dramatically increase the incidence of screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) in an urban minority population, according to a new study published in the December 2006 issue of American Journal of Public Health.

The study suggests a promising strategy for increasing CRC screening, which may help reduce CRC incidence and death in black men and women, who are at significantly higher risk for both than their white counterparts. Past studies have shown that blacks are less likely to receive CRC screening, which when conducted regularly via three day stool blood test, reduces mortality by as much as 15-33 percent. With early detection, five-year CRC survival rates exceed 90 percent.

"There's a clear connection between African Americans' high rates for developing and dying from colon cancer and their low rates of screening at the age when colon cancer becomes a significant risk," said Charles E. Basch, Richard March Hoe Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. "This study is the first to demonstrate that telephone outreach can dramatically increase the rate of CRC screening in an urban minority population. By providing such screening, health insurers and employers could find a significant reduction in the human and financial toll taken by colon cancer."

From 1992-2001, CRC incidence for black men was 13.2 percent higher than for white men and 21.7 percent greater for black women than for white women. Annual mortality was 34 percent greater for black men than for white men and 38 percent greater for black women than for white women.

While prior research has demonstrated the effectiveness of telephone outreach to motivate cancer screening, the Teachers College study is the first to show that the technique can increase CRC screening in a predominantly black population.

The study focused on a mainly minority population in the New York City metropolitan area. The 456
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Contact: Joe Levine
jlevine@tc.columbia.edu
212-678-3176
Teachers College, Columbia University
3-Jan-2007


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