Cancer Incidence Among Patients of the U.S. Veterans Affairs Health Care System: 2010 Update

Mil Med. 2017 Jul;182(7):e1883-e1891. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-16-00371.


Introduction: Nearly 50,000 incident cancer cases are reported in Veterans Affairs (VA) Central Cancer Registry (VACCR) annually. This article provides an updated report of cancer incidence recorded in VACCR.

Materials and methods: Data were obtained from VACCR for incident cancers diagnosed in the VA health care system, focusing on 2010 data. Cancer incidence among VA patients is described by anatomical site, sex, race, stage, and geographic location, and was compared to the general U.S. cancer population.

Results: In 2010, among 46,170 invasive cancers, 97% were diagnosed among men. Approximately 80% of newly diagnosed patients were white, 19% black, and less than 2% were other minority races. Median age at diagnosis was 65 years. The three most frequently diagnosed cancers among VA were prostate (29%), lung/bronchus (18%), and colon/rectum (8%). Melanoma and kidney/renal pelvis tied for fourth (4%), and urinary bladder tied for sixth with liver and intrahepatic bile duct (3.4%). Approximately 23% of prostate, 21% of lung/bronchus, and 31% of colon/rectum cancers were diagnosed with Stage I disease. The overall invasive cancer incidence rate among VA users was 505.8 per 100,000 person-years.

Conclusions: Although the composition of the VA population is shifting and includes a larger number of women, registry data indicate that incident cancers in VA in 2010 were most similar to those observed among U.S. men. Consistent reporting of VACCR data is important to provide accurate estimates of VA cancer incidence. This information can be used to plan efforts to improve quality of cancer care and access to services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs / statistics & numerical data
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data*