Peter G. Rossos MD, FRCP(C)
Elaine Yeung MD
Division of Gastroenterology, University Health Network
University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cause of cancer and second leading cause of cancer death in Canada. It is estimated that there were 17,200 new cases and 6,400 deaths from colorectal cancer in Canada in 2001. When both women and men are considered together, colorectal cancer is the second most frequent cause of death from cancer among Canadians.1 Most CRC occurs in average risk individuals for whom there are no accepted guidelines for screening.2 Higher risk categories include those who have a family history of CRC, a personal history of CRC, colonic adenomas or inflammatory bowel disease, and the familial syndromes including familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC).3 This discussion will focus on average risk older adults, who comprise almost all CRC cases in patients 65 years of age or older.
Although age-standardized incidence and mortality rates have been declining for CRC since 1985, the number of new cases has continued to rise steadily and significantly among both men and women as a result of the growth and aging of the population. Recent data from the National Cancer Institute of Canada is displayed in Figures 1 and 2.