Epidemiology and etiology

Colorectal cancer occurs at a much higher rate in industrialized parts of the world such as North America and Europe, while the lowest rates are seen in less-developed areas suggesting that environmental and dietary factors influence the development of colorectal cancer.2 In addition to these environmental factors, colorectal cancers are known to develop more frequently in certain families, and genetic predisposition to this cancer is well known.

The incidence of colorectal cancer is greatest among males, who have an approximately 1.5 times greater risk for developing colorectal cancer than women. Overall, colon and rectal cancers make up approximately 10% of all cancer diagnoses in men and women in the United States.1 The median age at diagnosis is 72 years with very few cases occurring in individuals less than 45 years of age.3 Age appears to be the biggest risk factor for the development of colorectal cancer with 70% of cases diagnosed in adults older than 65 years of age.

Though still the third leading cause of cancer death, mortality rates for colorectal cancer have declined over the last 30 years as a result of better and increasingly used screening modalities and more effective treatments.

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