Background: International differences in survival among colorectal cancer (CRC) patients may partly be explained by differences in emergency presentations (EP), waiting times and access to treatment.
Methods: CRC patients registered in 2015-2016 at the Cancer Registry of Norway were linked with the Norwegian Patient Registry and Statistics Norway. Multivariable logistic regressions analysed the odds of an EP and access to surgery, radiotherapy and systemic anticancer treatment (SACT). Multivariable quantile regression analysed time from diagnosis to treatment.
Results: Of 8216 CRC patients 29.2% had an EP before diagnosis, of which 81.4% were admitted to hospital with a malignancy-related condition. Higher age, more advanced stage, more comorbidities and colon cancer were associated with increased odds of an EP (p < 0.001). One-year mortality was 87% higher among EP patients (HR=1.87, 95%CI:1.75-2.02). Being married or high income was associated with 30% reduced odds of an EP (p < 0.001). Older age was significantly associated with increased waiting time to treatment (p < 0.001). Region of residence was significantly associated with waiting time and access to treatment (p < 0.001). Male (OR = 1.30, 95%CI:1.03,1.64) or married (OR = 1.39, 95%CI:1.09,1.77) colon cancer patients had an increased odds of SACT. High income rectal cancer patients had an increased odds (OR = 1.48, 95%CI:1.03,2.13) of surgery.
Conclusion: Patients who were older, with advanced disease or more comorbidities were more likely to have an emergency-onset diagnosis and less likely to receive treatment. Income was not associated with waiting time or access to treatment among CRC patients, but was associated with the likelihood of surgery among rectal cancer patients.
Keywords: Colorectal cancer; Emergency presentation; Treatment; Waiting time.