Racial differences in use of colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and barium enema in Medicare beneficiaries

Dig Dis Sci. 2002 Dec;47(12):2715-9. doi: 10.1023/a:1021001121026.


Colorectal cancer is often diagnosed at a later stage in blacks. We wanted to know if racial differences existed in the use of tests for detection of colorectal cancer. A 5% random sample was obtained of all Medicare beneficiaries with Part B coverage, aged 65 years and older and classified as white or black race. The numbers of colonoscopies, flexible sigmoidoscopies, and barium enemas were determined from the Physician/Supplier file. Blacks were 18% less likely to receive colonoscopy and 39% less likely to receive flexible sigmoidoscopy after controlling for age, sex, income, and access to care in a multivariable logistic regression model. Barium enema was not significantly different between the races. Black men had 25% lower use of colonoscopy and 50% decreased use of flexible sigmoidoscopy. Blacks receive less colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy than whites. Black men are particularly vulnerable to the under-use of these tests.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans*
  • Aged
  • Barium Sulfate
  • Colonoscopy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / economics
  • Enema / statistics & numerical data*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicare Part B / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sigmoidoscopy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States


  • Barium Sulfate