Risk of developing colorectal cancer and benign colorectal neoplasm in patients with chronic constipation

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Jul;40(1):83-92. doi: 10.1111/apt.12789. Epub 2014 May 15.


Background: Chronic constipation (CC) is a highly prevalent health problem, potentially associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer (CRCancer).

Aim: To investigate the association between CC, its severity, and CRCancer by estimating the relative risk of developing CRCancer and benign colorectal neoplasm (BCN) among severity-stratified patients with and without CC.

Methods: Chronic constipation patients from a large retrospective US claims database were matched 1:3 with CC-free controls by demographic characteristics. CRCancer and BCN prevalence were measured over 1 year. In pre-index CRCancer- and BCN-free patients, incidence rate ratios (IRRs) of new CRCancer and BCN were calculated. Multivariate regression models adjusted for comorbidities and family history. CC patients' disease severity was rated based on CC-related resource use. IRRs for new CRCancer and BCN were estimated for CC severity groups and controls.

Results: Chronic constipation (N = 28,854) and CC-free (N = 86,562) patients had mean age 61.9 years; 66.7% were female. One-year CRCancer prevalence was 2.7% and 1.7%, and BCN prevalence was 24.8% and 11.9% for CC and CC-free patients, respectively. Adjusted IRRs between CC and CC-free patients were 1.59 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.43-1.78] and 2.60 [95% CI: 1.51-2.70] for CRCancer and BCN, respectively. Patients with severe and very severe CC had significantly greater incidence of CRCancer and BCN. At ≥ 2 and ≥ 5 years of observation, CRCancer and BCN incidence remained consistently and significantly higher for CC patients.

Conclusions: Patients with chronic constipation are associated with significantly higher prevalence and incidence of colorectal cancer and benign colorectal neoplasm than matched chronic constipation-free patients. These risks increase with the severity of chronic constipation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Constipation / epidemiology*
  • Constipation / physiopathology
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • United States
  • Young Adult