In developed countries, time trends in the incidence of colorectal cancer differ markedly from trends in mortality. This study sought to explain simultaneously changes in both colorectal cancer incidence and mortality. Data on first admissions, interventions and outcome from the national hospital registry over the period 1978–1989 and data on mortality from Statistics Netherlands over the same period were analysed by age-period models and subsequently entered in a Markov chain model, simulating disease history from first admission to death. Over the period 1978–1989, age adjusted numbers of first admissions and interventions increased by 37% and 32%, respectively, while mortality declined by 8%. For every 100 patients admitted between 1987 and 1989, 13 more will survive compared with 1978–1980. Of these, 3 will be saved by improving results of primary treatment but the other 10 will survive their diagnosis for the subsequent 10 years. Although progress in treatment has been made, therapeutic improvement can account only for the smaller part of the divergence between morbidity and mortality. Increased diagnostic activity, raising incidence and lowering mortality simultaneously, is the most likely cause of the unexplained divergence.

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European Journal of Cancer
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Bonneux, L.G.A, Barendregt, J.J.M, Looman, C.W.N, & van der Maas, P.J. (1995). Diverging trends in colorectal cancer morbidity and mortality. Earlier diagnosis comes at a price. European Journal of Cancer, 31(10), 1665–1671. doi:10.1016/0959-8049(95)00299-X