Background: Subsite specific incidence rates of colorectal cancer vary considerably by age, gender, and race. This variation may be related not only to distinctions in exposure to genetic and environment factors but also to current strategies of early detection screening. Patterns of stage of disease in anatomic subsite may reflect the effect of screening. This study used the largest aggregation of cancer incidence data in the U.S. to examine subsite specific incidence rates of colorectal cancer and the relation of stage of disease to anatomic subsites by race, gender, and age group.
Methods: Data on the incidence of invasive colorectal cancer were obtained from 28 population-based central cancer registries. Age-specific and age-adjusted rates and stage distributions were analyzed by subsite, race, and gender.
Results: The impact of screening can be observed in the percentage of localized disease, which increased from 31.9% among cancers in the proximal colon to 37.0% in the descending colon to 41.5% in the distal colorectum. Within the same subsite, blacks were less likely than whites to receive a diagnosis of localized disease and more likely to receive a diagnosis of distant disease whereas stage distributions were approximately the same for males and females. Blacks were more likely than whites to receive a diagnosis of proximal colon cancer than distal colorectal cancer. The male-to-female rate ratios progressively increased from the proximal colon to the distal colorectum. The ratios of proximal-to-distal colorectal cancer gradually increased with advancing age.
Conclusions: Differentials in stage of disease by subsites indicate a need for a targeted effort at early detection of cancer in the proximal colon. Risk factors and higher risk populations for colorectal cancers in each subsite need to be studied further to guide actions for improving the efficacy of screening.
Copyright 2001 American Cancer Society.