Cancer incidence among patients of the U.S. Veterans Affairs Health Care System

Mil Med. 2012 Jun;177(6):693-701. doi: 10.7205/milmed-d-11-00434.


Objective: Approximately 40,000 incident cancer cases are reported in the Veterans Affairs Central Cancer Registry (VACCR) annually (approximately 3% of U.S. cancer cases). Our objective was to provide the first comprehensive description of cancer incidence as reported in VACCR.

Methods: Data were obtained from VACCR for incident cancers diagnosed in VA. Analyses focused on 2007 data. Cancer incidence among VA patients was compared to the general U.S. cancer population.

Results: In 2007, 97.5% of VA cancers were diagnosed among men. Approximately 78.5% of newly diagnosed patients were White, 19.0% Black, and 2.5% were another race. Median age at diagnosis was 66 years. The geographic distribution of cancer patients in VA aligns that of VA users. The most commonly diagnosed cancers were similar between VA and the U.S. male cancer population. The five most frequently diagnosed cancers among VA cancer patients were: prostate (31.8%), lung/bronchus (18.8%), colon/rectum (8.6%), urinary bladder (3.6%), and skin melanomas (3.4%). VA patients were diagnosed at an earlier stage of disease for the three most commonly diagnosed cancers--lung/bronchus, colon/rectum, and prostate--compared to the U.S. male cancer population.

Conclusions: Registry data indicate that incident cancers in VA in 2007 approximately mirrored those observed among U.S. men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Melanoma / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Registries
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data*