Racial Disparities in Incidence of Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer and Patient Survival

Caitlin C. Murphy, Kristin Wallace, Robert S. Sandler, John A. Baron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Increasing rates of young-onset colorectal cancer (CRC) have attracted substantial research and media attention, but we know little about racial disparities among younger adults with CRC. We examined racial disparities in young-onset CRC by comparing CRC incidence and relative survival among younger (<50-year-old) adults in 2 time periods. Methods: Using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program of cancer registries, we estimated CRC incidence rates (per 100,000 persons 20–49 years old) from 1992 through 2014 for different periods (1992–1996 vs 2010–2014) and races (white vs black). Relative survival was calculated as the ratio of observed survival to expected survival in a comparable cancer-free population. Results: From 1992–1996 to 2010–2014, CRC incidence increased from 7.5 to 11.0 per 100,000 in white individuals and from 11.7 to 12.7 per 100,000 in black individuals. The increase in rectal cancer was larger in whites (from 2.7 to 4.5 per 100,000) than in blacks (from 3.4 to 4.0 per 100,000); in the 2010–2014 period, blacks and whites had similar rates of rectal cancer. Compared with whites, blacks had smaller increases in relative survival with proximal colon cancer but larger increases in survival with rectal cancer (from 55.3% to 70.8%). Conclusion: In an analysis of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database, we found racial disparities in incidence of young-onset CRC and patient survival for cancer of the colon but minimal difference for rectal cancer. Well-documented and recent increases in young-onset CRC have largely been due to increases in rectal cancer, especially in whites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)958-965
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • African American
  • Neoplasm
  • SEER Database
  • Young Adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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