ATLANTA, GA—Disparities in colorectal cancer (CRC) death rates take a large toll on the United States economy, with communities of lower socioeconomic status bearing the greatest burden, according to findings presented at the Eighth American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved.

“A substantial number of colorectal cancer deaths are potentially preventable through routine colorectal screening,” said Hannah K. Weir, PhD, senior epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

“We found that many of those preventable deaths are in lower socioeconomic status communities, and cancer puts a huge economic burden on those communities.”

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Results showed that eliminating avoidable CRC deaths would increase productivity gains by $4.2 billion in men and $2.2 billion in women. Researchers also found that in lower socioeconomic status communities, nearly 195,000 years of potential life were lost due to premature CRC deaths, compared with approximately 129,000 years of potential life lost in the communities of higher socioeconomic status.

“Higher SES groups have better access to care, and have fewer barriers including being unable to take time off work,” Weir said.

The findings suggest that increasing awareness of CRC in lower socioeconomic status areas could reduce CRC deaths and the related economic losses.


1. Disparities in colorectal cancer death rates take a large economic toll [news release]. EurekAlert! web site. Published November 13, 2015. Accessed November 13, 2015.