Black-White Disparities in Colorectal Cancer Outcomes
A Simulation Study of Screening Benefit
Published in: JNCI Monographs, Volume 2023, Issue 62, pages 196–203 (November 2023). doi: 10.1093/jncimonographs/lgad019
Posted on RAND.org on November 13, 2023
The US Black population has higher colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence rates and worse CRC survival than the US White population, as well as historically lower rates of CRC screening. The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results incidence rate data in people diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 45 years, before routine CRC screening is recommended, were analyzed to estimate temporal changes in CRC risk in Black and White populations. There was a rapid rise in rectal and distal colon cancer incidence in the White population but not the Black population, and little change in proximal colon cancer incidence for both groups. In 2014-2018, CRC incidence per 100 000 was 17.5 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 15.3 to 19.9) among Black individuals aged 40-44 years and 16.6 (95% CI = 15.6 to 17.6) among White individuals aged 40-44 years; 42.3% of CRCs diagnosed in Black patients were proximal colon cancer, and 41.1% of CRCs diagnosed in White patients were rectal cancer. Analyses used a race-specific microsimulation model to project screening benefits, based on life-years gained and lifetime reduction in CRC incidence, assuming these Black–White differences in CRC risk and location. The projected benefits of screening (via either colonoscopy or fecal immunochemical testing) were greater in the Black population, suggesting that observed Black–White differences in CRC incidence are not driven by differences in risk. Projected screening benefits were sensitive to survival assumptions made for Black populations. Building racial disparities in survival into the model reduced projected screening benefits, which can bias policy decisions.