Public Health

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What is colon cancer?

Colorectal cancer is found in the colon or rectum. This cancer can develop from the formation of polyps, or abnormal growths, that develop in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can detect cancer in the beginning stages as well as polyps that should be removed before they advance to cancer.

In one study, rates of colorectal cancer between 2012-2016 were 1.38 times higher in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) males compared with non-Hispanic white (NHW) males and 1.36 times higher in AI/AN females than NHW females.[1]

IHS Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) data indicate lower screening among AI/AN people nationwide.[2]

In 2017, some Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) were meeting colorectal screening targets, while others struggled to meet their goals. On average, UIO screening was 6-18% lower than its target goal of 40.2% of patients eligible for screening.[3]

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer among American Indian and Alaska Native people and the second leading cause of cancer death.[4][5]


All individuals aged 45 and older should be screened for
colorectal cancer.


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