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Colorectal Cancer in People with Intellectual Disabilities


Emmanuelle Samalin



People with intellectual disabilities (PWIDs) are now living longer; thus, the incidence of cancer within this population is increasing. Available data indicate an excess of digestive tract cancers in PWIDs, but colorectal cancer has rarely been specifically studied and has not been extensively reviewed. This is despite risk factors such as being overweight, obesity, and lack of exercise being more frequent in PWIDs. In this article, we examine the literature on the frequency, screening, and treatment of colorectal cancer in PWIDs by as sessing 4 databases, Medline, EBSCO-CINHL, ASSIA, and PsychLIT, from 1970 to February 2017. Findings indicate that the frequency trends slightly higher than that found in the general population. Screening presents a unique opportunity to discover early colorectal cancer, but is underused in PWIDs compared to the general population. Furthermore, the clinical presentation is frequently masked, particularly by challenging behaviours, and colorectal cancer is therefore often diagnosed late, making treatment difficult due to the advanced stage of these tumours. To improve the care of PWIDs, we need more resources to support them and their caregivers, and to increase awareness of the risk factors and signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer.


Willis, D., Samalin, E., & Satgé, D. (2018). Colorectal Cancer in People with Intellectual Disabilities. Oncology, 95(6), 323-336.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Jul 11, 2018
Online Publication Date Aug 31, 2018
Publication Date Sep 10, 2018
Deposit Date Feb 11, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 12, 2019
Journal Oncology
Print ISSN 0030-2414
Publisher Karger Publishers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 95
Issue 6
Pages 323-336
Keywords Colon cancer, Rectal cancer, Cancer screening, Intellectual disability, Learning disability, treatment difficulties,
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