The incidence of colorectal cancer (CRC) shows considerable geographical differences around the world. The highest incidence rates are mainly seen in the Western world including North America, Australia/New Zealand, Western Europe, and Japan. Development countries report the lowest incidence rates. In Europe, CRC is the second most common diagnosed cancer in women and third in men (13% of all cancer cases in both women and men). Incidence rates are somewhat higher in men (1.2:1.0). The lifetime incidence of CRC in patients at average risk is approximately five percent. Incidence rates show demographic disparities over the last decades, with a gradual increase in South/Eastern Europe, stabilising numbers in North and West Europe, and a declining trend in the United States. Age is a major risk factor for the development of CRC. CRC rarely develops before the age of 40 (IKC), except in patients with a genetic predisposition. Incidence rates rapidly increase beyond the age of 50. In Europe, CRC ranked second (12% of all cancer related mortality) in terms of cancer related mortality 1, despite the significant increase in five-year survival in the last two decades. This improvement was in particular due to resection of rectal cancer with sharp dissection of the mesorectum en bloc with the rectum (total mesorectal excision) combined with pre-operative radiotherapy, and usage of new chemotherapeutic agents in various combinations. Additionally, improvement in outcome can be attributed to detection of the disease at an earlier stage due to screening and surveillance programmes.

colorectal cancer, incidence rates, population screening, rectal cancer
J.D.F. Habbema (Dik) , E.J. Kuipers (Ernst)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Eiken Chemical CO. LTD, Bipharma BV, Tramedico BV, Zambon BV, AstraZeneca BV, ZonMw, Ferring BV, EMC Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Hol, L. (2010, April 16). Population-based screening for colorectal cancer. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from