Colorectal Cancer in 2017: Incidence Rates Going Up in Younger Patients, Down in Older Patients

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Disparities in colorectal cancer rates and mortality based on age persist.
Disparities in colorectal cancer rates and mortality based on age persist.

Disparities in colorectal cancer rates and mortality based on age, race, and tumor location remain even though overall colorectal cancer incidence has declined. These results were described in the 2017 edition of Colorectal Cancer Statistics and its companion publication, Colorectal Cancer Facts and Figures. The American Cancer Society issues these publications every 3 years.1

Colorectal cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and women. In 2017, clinicians will diagnose an estimated 95,520 new cases of colon cancer and 39,910 cases of rectal cancer in the United States.

Expected cases of colon cancer in men (47,700) are approximately equal to women (47,820), but rectal cancer diagnoses are expected to be more frequent among men (23,720) than women (16,190).

Alaska Natives (91 per 100,000 persons) and African Americans (49 per 100,000 persons) experience the highest incidence rates, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders experience the lowest incidence (32 per 100,000 persons).

Death rates from colorectal cancer in 2017 are estimated to be 27,150 in men and 23,110 in women.

Incidence rates have declined sharply in people aged 50 years or older, decreasing by 32% since 2000. Much of this decline is due to screening to detect and remove precancerous polyps.

Although rates of colorectal cancer are decreasing in every state, the decline is slowest in states with the highest rates of colorectal cancer (Kentucky and Louisiana).

In contrast, incidence rates in people younger than 50 years are increasing —22% increase was seen from 2000 to 2013.

In similar fasion, colorectal cancer mortality rates from 2000 and 2014 decreased by 34% in people older than 50 years and increased by 13% in people younger than 50 years.

Data from the National Health Interview Survey indicate that between 2013 and 2015, screening with any guideline-recommended test increased from 53% to 58% in people aged 50 to 64 years and from 65% to 68% in people aged 65 years or older.

These increases follow a plateau in screening that occurred between 2010 and 2013, and represent screening of 3,785,600 adults aged 50 years or older in 2015. If screening levels remain at 2015 levels, an estimated 39,700 colorectal cancer cases and 37,200 deaths will be prevented through 2030.

Reference

1. Siegel RL, Miller KD, Fedewa SA, et al. Colorectal cancer statistics, 2017. CA Cancer J Clin. 2017 Feb. doi: 10.3322/caac.21395 [Epub ahead of print]

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