The following post was contributed by Jorge A. Soto, MD, a member of the ACR Colon Cancer Committee.
Cancer screening tests are not “one size fits all.” If men and women don’t like the options available to them, they won’t get screened. Different ethnic groups have different cultural outlooks that impact which test they prefer — or whether they will get tested at all. This is true among Latinos — particularly when it comes to colorectal cancer (CRC) screening.
Only half of Latinos in the United States ages 50 and older are screened for colorectal cancer. Perhaps not surprisingly, American Latinos have their colorectal cancers diagnosed at later stages than (non-Hispanic) whites. CRC survival rates after diagnosis are also lower for Hispanics than other groups.
U.S. Latinos have higher colorectal cancer incidence and death rates than Latinos in many Central and South America countries. Since 2000, U.S. Latino CRC death rates decreased at a lower rate than among non-Hispanic whites. This must change.
Latinos are a particular group where our efforts to increase CRC screening rates through Medicare coverage for CTC and greater awareness and acceptance of this potentially lifesaving screening method may have great impact.
I recently spoke with reporters from several large market radio stations nationwide about CT colonography as part of an ACR radio media tour. I closed by asking listeners to go to RadiologyInfo.org — particularly the Spanish version of the site.
As a Latino, and as a physician who serves Latino patients — including some who may not speak English as their first language — I am glad that the College offers the resources below. These can help explain why CTC may be an attractive screening option for them and ultimately save more lives.
We can also educate ourselves regarding CT colonography and take advantage of the recently updated ACR CTC resources section with the latest coverage news, clinical research and other CTC information. New additions include:
- Lobby/waiting room CTC brochure in English and Spanish (download and make them available to patients)
- An online video explaining CTC risks vs. benefits, how to prepare for the exam and which insurers presently cover the test (to add to practice websites)
I also invite you (and your patients) to contact your representatives and senators to support the CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act. The best colorectal cancer screening test is the one that patients will actually use. President Obama selected CT Colonography over conventional colonoscopy as a screening examination for colorectal cancer, and I plan to do the same myself.
By broadening access to effective screening options, like CTC, we can catch more cancers early and save more lives — not only among Latinos, but all Americans.
How do you serve your Latino patients? We’d like to hear what resources you offer.