In the Clinic

On Cancer: More New Yorkers Getting Lifesaving Colonoscopies

By Esther Napolitano, BS, Science Writer/Editor  |  Thursday, November 17, 2011

A new study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology has found that more New Yorkers are getting lifesaving colonoscopies, especially those in underserved communities.

The overall colonoscopy screening rate has improved by 20 percent in five years among underserved and uninsured New Yorkers aged 50 years and older. This is due, in part, to a campaign to increase the timeliness and frequency of colon cancer screening, started in 2003 by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Citywide Colon Cancer Control Coalition.

Memorial Sloan Kettering gastroenterologist Sidney Winawer, senior author of the study and co-chair of the city coalition responsible for the campaign, writes that the program eliminated many previously documented disparities among whites, blacks, and Hispanics. He notes, however, that among Asian Americans important disparities related to insurance status, education, and income level still exist, and will need to be addressed with new strategies.

Colonoscopies have been shown to significantly reduce the chance of developing colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2011 more than 141,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 49,000 people will die of the disease in the United States.

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