Aims: To analyse time-trends in survival of patients with colon and rectal cancer in Sweden.
Patients and methods: Data including all patients diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the colon and rectum between 1960 and 1999, from the Swedish Cancer Registry, were analysed. The observed and relative survival rates were calculated according to the Hakulinen cohort method.
Results: Five-year relative survival rate for cancer of the colon improved significantly from 39.6% in 1960--1964 to 57.2% in 1995--1999 and for rectal cancer from 36.1 to 57.6%, respectively. Corresponding observed survival improved from 31.2 to 44.3% for colon cancer and from 28.4 to 45.4% for rectal cancer. The largest improvement of survival were seen during the later part of the period observed.
Conclusion: The survival of patients with colon and rectal cancer in Sweden continues to improve, especially in rectal cancer, which now has a 5-year observed and relative survival rate comparable to that for colon cancer. The survival improvement in rectal cancer is probably a result of the implementation of total mesorectal excision and pre-operative radiotherapy.