By: Eli Baied.
Both the incidence and mortality rate of colorectal cancer have declined through the past few decades, and according to the American Cancer Society, this trend is expected to continue. The drop is likely due to the substantial rise in colonoscopy screening in the United States in recent decades. From 2001 to 2010 colonoscopy screening increased from 19% to 55% in adults 50 to 75 years of age and is expected to be even higher in the coming years. Despite this sizeable decline, it is expected that 71,830 men and 65,000 females will be diagnosed with the disease in 2014 and over 50,000 Americans will die from it.
Between 2001-2010, the overall incidence rate of colorectal cancer has been declining at a rate of approximately 3.9% per year in adults aged 50 years and older. Of these, men and women aged 65 and older have seen the greatest drop with an average of 7.2% per year between 2008 and 2010. Interestingly though, the incidence rate has increased by 1.1% per year in adults less than 50 years of age. Although the exact cause for this increase in incidence rate is unknown, it is hypothesized that the increase in obesity in the United States could be a factor.
As noted earlier, death from colorectal cancer is also expected to decrease in the 2014 due to better treatments, awareness, avoidance of risk factors, and an increase in colonoscopies across the nation. Mortality rates have dropped in all stages of colorectal cancer with an overall decrease per year of approximately 3.0% per year from 2001 and 2010.
While both the incidence and mortality rate have decreased significantly in the past few decades, there is always room for improvement in terms of risk factor prevention, education, and universal screening programs for colorectal carcinoma. The decrease incidence and mortality is evident in all racial groups, however rates have been consistently lower in whites as compared to blacks. This racial disparity likely reflects the greater access to colonoscopy screening, and risk factor education prevention programs among the white men and women vs. their black counterparts, and the socioeconomic differences seen between these groups. Interestingly, death rates were lowest black men and women in the 1960s. To reduce the further scourge of colorectal cancer, prevention measures must include all sectors of the populations with a priority of targeting those groups at an economic disadvantage.
1. Siegel R., DeSantis C., Jemal A. Colorectal Cancer Statistics 2014. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.2014; 00:000.