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Number of available colorectal specialists declines as African American population increases

Reuters Health • The Doctor's Channel Daily Newscast

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – As the number of African Americans in a given US county increases, the number of specialists involved in colorectal cancer care decreases, according to a report in the June issue of the Archives of Surgery. Just the opposite is true regarding Asian American residents.

The findings stem from an analysis of data from the 2004 Area Resource File, a nationwide database of healthcare, economic, and various demographic sources. Data from all 3219 counties in the US were included in the analysis.

On multivariate analysis, the number of gastroenterologists and radiation oncologists decreased significantly as the number of African Americans within a county increased (p < 0.001), Dr. Awori J. Hayanga, from the University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, and colleagues note. A similar trend was seen for colorectal surgeons. In contrast, with an increase in Asian Americans within a county, a significant increase in gastroenterologists and radiation oncologists was noted, the authors state. Once again, a similar trend with colorectal surgeons was noted. “Strategies that target the appropriate use of adjuvant therapies in the counties in which African Americans live may be impeded by the sheer lack of availability of the providers in these areas,” the researchers comment. “Perhaps the nonuse of diagnostic and adjuvant therapies,” they add, “is related to the great distances that African Americans must travel to seek these services, plausibly outside their own residential counties.” References:
Arch Surg 2009;144:532-535.