Long-term trends in colorectal cancer: incidence, localization, and presentation

Colorectal Cancer

BMC Cancer. 2020 Nov 10;20(1):1077. doi: 10.1186/s12885-020-07582-x.


BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to assess trends in incidence and presentation of colorectal cancer (CRC) over a period of 37 years in a stable population in Mid-Norway. Secondarily, we wanted to predict the future burden of CRC in the same catchment area.

METHODS: All 2268 patients diagnosed with CRC at Levanger Hospital between 1980 and 2016 were included in this study. We used Poisson regression to calculate the incidence rate ratio (IRR) and analyse factors associated with incidence.

RESULTS: The incidence of CRC increased from 43/100,000 person-years during 1980-1984 to 84/100,000 person-years during 2012-2016. Unadjusted IRR increased by 1.8% per year, corresponding to an overall increase in incidence of 94.5%. Changes in population (ageing and sex distribution) contributed to 28% of this increase, whereas 72% must be attributed to primary preventable factors associated with lifestyle. Compared with the last observational period, we predict a further 40% increase by 2030, and a 70% increase by 2040. Acute colorectal obstruction was associated with tumours in the left flexure and descending colon. Spontaneous colorectal perforation was associated with tumours in the descending colon, caecum, and sigmoid colon. The incidence of obstruction remained stable, while the incidence of perforation decreased throughout the observational period. The proportion of earlier stages at diagnosis increased significantly in recent decades.

CONCLUSION: CRC incidence increased substantially from 1980 to 2016, mainly due to primary preventable factors. The incidence will continue to increase during the next two decades, mainly due to further ageing of the population.