Differential incidence trends of colon and rectal cancers in Hong Kong: an age-period-cohort analysis

Cancer Commun (Lond). 2018 Jun 28;38(1):42. doi: 10.1186/s40880-018-0311-2.


Background: Colorectal cancer has been the second most common cancer among men and women in Hong Kong since 2012, but the underlying reasons for this increase remain unclear. We describe the incidence trend for colorectal cancer in Hong Kong to explore its etiology within this population.

Methods: The temporal trends in colorectal cancer incidence between 1983 and 2012 were analyzed with joinpoint regressions by sex, age groups, and anatomic sites among adults using data from the Hong Kong Cancer Registry. An age-period-cohort analysis was used to evaluate the effects of age, calendar periods, and birth cohorts on the observed temporal trends.

Results: The incidence of colon cancer among those aged 50 years and older in both sexes increased steadily from 1983 until the mid-1990s and was followed by a slight decrease thereafter, whereas the incidence among those aged 20-49 years decreased steadily from 1983 to 2012. In contrast, the incidence of rectal cancer steadily increased in men and remained stable in women throughout the study period. Significant period and birth cohort effects were observed for colon cancer, whereas period effects on the temporal trends were observed for male rectal cancer.

Conclusions: The incidences of colon and rectal cancers have exhibited divergent patterns between 1983 and 2012 in Hong Kong, indicating heterogeneous etiologies between these two types of cancers. Surveillance of the risk factors related to colon and rectal cancers in the Hong Kong population should be performed, and the increased rectal cancer incidence in males is worthy of extra attention.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colonic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis*
  • Young Adult