Background: Patients whose colorectal cancer is treated after an emergency admission tend to have late-stage cancer and a poor prognosis. We identified risk factors for an emergency admission by linking data from the National Bowel Cancer Audit (NBCA) and the English Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), an administrative database of all admissions to English National Health Service hospitals, which includes data on mode of admission.
Methods: We identified all adults included in the NBCA with a primary diagnosis of bowel cancer, excluding cancer of the appendix, between August 2007 and July 2011 whose record could be linked to HES. Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (OR) for an emergency admission for colorectal cancer. All risk factors were adjusted for cancer site and calendar year.
Results: 97,909 adults were identified with a primary diagnosis of bowel cancer and 82,777 patients could be linked to HES. Patients who were older, female, of a non-white ethnic background, and more socioeconomically deprived, and those with dementia or cardiac, neurologic and liver disease had an increased risk of presenting as an emergency admission. The strongest risk factors were age (90 compared with 70 years: OR 2.99, 95% CI 2.84 to 3.15), dementia (OR 2.46, 2.18 to 2.79), and liver disease (OR 1.87, 1.69 to 2.08).
Conclusions: Our study identifies risk factors that may impair health-seeking behaviour and access to healthcare. An earlier recognition of symptoms in patients with these risk factors may contribute to better outcomes.