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Examining factors underlying geographic disparities in early-onset colorectal cancer survival among men in the United States. Am J Cancer Res 2020;10(5):1592-1607



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Background: Despite overall incidence reduction in colorectal cancer (CRC) the past 32 years, unexplained incidence and mortality rates have increased significantly in younger adults ages 20-49. To improve understanding of sex-specific differences among this population, we aimed to determine the variance in early-onset CRC (EOCRC) survival among US men diagnosed with CRC before age 50, while considering individual- and county-level CRC outcome determinants. Methods: Hotspots (i.e., counties with high EOCRC mortality rates) were derived from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 1999-2017, and linked to SEER data for men aged 15-49 years with CRC. Cox proportional hazards models were used to compare CRC-specific survival probability and hazard in hotspots versus non-significant counties. A generalized R2 was used to estimate the total variance in EOCRC survival explained by clinicodemographic and county-level determinants. Results: We identified 232 hotspot counties for EOCRC-214 (92%) of which were in the South. In hotspots, 1,009 men were diagnosed with EOCRC and 31,438 in non-significant counties. After adjusting for age, race, tumor stage and grade, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and marital status, men residing in hotspot counties had higher hazard of CRC-specific death (HR 1.24, 95% CI, 1.12-1.36). Individual/county-level factors explained nearly 35% of the variation in survival, and adult smoking served as the strongest county-level determinant of EOCRC survival. Conclusion: Distinct geographic patterns of EOCRC were predominantly located in the southern US. Survival after EOCRC diagnosis was significantly worse among men residing in hotspot counties.

Author List

Rogers CR, Moore JX, Qeadan F, Gu LY, Huntington MS, Holowatyj AN


Charles R. Rogers PhD Center Associate Director, Associate Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin