Colorectal Cancer Screening is Vital and Patients in Puerto Rico Need To Pay Attention

In Puerto Rico, colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and mortality rates are increasing. Meanwhile, adherence rates to CRC screening (52.2%) are still below the goals (70.5%) established by Healthy People 2020. One of the most significant barriers to adherence to CRC screening – as research has identified – is the lack of knowledge. That’s why at San Cristóbal Cancer Institute, we make every effort to educate patients and community members about the importance of screening and treating colorectal cancer, one of the most common and dangerous cancers found locally.


In a study conducted by a medical research team at the University of Puerto Rico, participants between the ages of 40 and 85 years were recruited, with the aim of assessing CRC knowledge and screening rates among Puerto Rican Hispanics. Through a face-to-face, 13-question interview, participants provided information on demographic characteristics and knowledge about CRC, including risk factors and CRC screening tests. Overall, their knowledge scores were evaluated according to demographic characteristics using the Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test. Some key findings include a sharp correlation between significantly lower scores among participants with lower annual family income, those who had never received a recommendation for CRC screening by a healthcare provider, and those who had no history of CRC screening.


Why this is important? Currently, CRC is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Puerto Rico. According to the Central Registry of Cancer of Puerto Rico during the 2006-2010 period, an incidence rate adjusted for age and the population of the United States was reported of 34.8 per 100,000 women and 52.0 per 100,000 men. According to the incidence rates of this period, 4.9% of men and women born today in Puerto Rico will have a diagnosis of colorectal cancer at some point in their lives (Central Cancer Registry of Puerto Rico, 2014).


Knowledge about CRC must be improved in Puerto Rico, and efforts must be made to promote and develop culturally appropriate CRC educational strategies. Future studies should focus on identifying other barriers and factors that may limit CRC screening in the Puerto Rican Hispanic population. Meanwhile, at San Cristóbl Cancer Institute we can help physicians empower and educate patients, through educational materials and on-site orientations. Please contact your Physician Liaison to schedule resources appropriately.  

For more information about Colorectal Cancer, please visit our information page or CONTACT US.