April 10, 2012
Researchers at Johns Hopkins recently released results of a study that found obese white women less likely than non-obese, white women or any African-American group to get screened for colon cancer. These findings mirror past results that indicate white obese women more unlikely to get mammograms or Pap tests.
Obesity is a risk factor for both colon cancer incidence and mortality so the low screening rates among this group is especially alarming. One potential reason is obese white women may be embarrassed to undress for screening tests, resulting from a negative body image. If these findings are confirmed by future studies, outreach and education to this group may shift to address it.
Colon cancer is preventable, yet screening rates are low across the board. Only 20-24 percent of men and women over age 50 have received a colonoscopy and only 12 percent have used fecal occult blood testing.