Background: Disparities by race and neighborhood socioeconomic status exist for many colorectal cancer (CRC) outcomes, including screening use and mortality. We used population-based data to determine if disparities also exist for emergency CRC diagnosis and surgery.
Methods: We examined two emergency CRC outcomes using 1992-2005 population-based U.S. SEER-Medicare data. Among CRC patients aged ≥66 years, we examined racial (African American vs. white) and neighborhood poverty disparities in two emergency outcomes defined as: 1) newly diagnosed CRC or 2) CRC surgery associated with: obstruction, perforation, or emergency inpatient admission. Multilevel logistic regression (patients nested in census tracts) analyses adjusted for sociodemographic, tumor, and clinical covariates.
Results: Of 83,330 CRC patients, 29.1% were diagnosed emergently. Of 55,046 undergoing surgery, 26.0% had emergency surgery. For both outcomes, race and neighborhood poverty disparities were evident. A significant race by poverty interaction (p < .001) was noted: poverty rate was associated with both outcomes among African Americans, but not whites. Compared to whites in low poverty (<10%) neighborhoods, African Americans in high poverty (≥20%) neighborhoods had increased odds of emergency diagnosis (AOR: 1.50, 95% CI: 1.38-1.63) and surgery (AOR: 1.63, 95% CI: 1.47-1.81).
Conclusions: Emergency CRC outcomes are associated with high poverty residence among African Americans in this population-based study, potentially contributing to observed disparities in CRC morbidity and mortality. Targeted efforts to increase CRC screening among African Americans living in high poverty neighborhoods could reduce preventable disparities.