Background: Commission on Cancer data from the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) report time trends in stage of disease, treatment patterns, and survival for patients with selected cancers. The most current data (1993) for patients with colon cancer are described.
Methods: Five calls for data yielded 3,700,000 cases of cancer for the years 1985 through 1993 from hospital cancer registeries across the U.S., including 36,937 cases of colon cancer from 1988 and 44,812 from 1993.
Results: Interesting trends are as follows: (1) the elderly ( > 80 years) present with earlier stage disease than younger patients; (2) the National Cancer Institute recognized cancer centers have more patients with advanced disease than other types of hospitals; (3) all ethnic groups have generally similar stages of disease at presentation, except for African-Americans who have a slightly higher incidence of Stage IV disease; (4) the proximal migration of the primary cancer continues with 54.7% of primary colon cancer arising in the right colon in 1993 compared with 50.9% in 1988; (5) an interaction between grade and stage of cancer seems present; and (6) patients with Stage III colon cancer who received adjuvant chemotherapy had a 5% improvement in 5-year relative survival.
Conclusions: The NCDB data are useful for reporting what cancer treatments are being administered and what outcomes are occurring in the U.S. The data suggest an important biologic role for grade of cancer. They also suggest that African-Americans and other ethnic groups have the same outcome as non-Hispanic whites but that access to medical care may still be less. Finally, the utility of adjuvant therapy for Stage III colon cancer may just be beginning to be appreciated.