Purpose: The incidence of colorectal cancer (CRC) in Korea has increased remarkably during the past few decades. The present study investigated the characteristics and survival of patients with CRC in Korea as a function of time, tumor distribution, stage, sex, and age. Methods: We retrieved clinical data on 326,712 CRC patients diagnosed between 1996 and 2015 from the Korea Central Cancer Registry. The incidence and the 5-year relative survival rates were compared across time period, tumor distribution, stage, sex, and age group. Results: The percentage of patients with colon cancer increased from 49.5% in 1996-2000 to 66.4% in 2011-2015 while the percentage of patients with rectal cancer decreased from 50.5% to 33.6%. The 5-year relative survival rates for all CRCs improved from 58.7% in 1996-2000 to 75.0% in 2011-2015. For 1996-2000, survival rates were highest for patients with left-sided colon cancers, followed by those with right-sided, transverse, rectal, rectosigmoid cancers. For 2011-2015, the survival rates for patients with left-sided cancers were highest, followed by those with rectosigmoid, rectal, transverse, and right-sided colon cancers. Patients with local and regional, but not distant, SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) stage tumors experienced significantly increased survival rates for 2006-2010 and 2011-2015. The proportion of CRC patients by age decreased in the order ≥70, 60-69, 50-59, 40-49, ≤39 years whereas survival rates decreased in the order 50-59, 60-69, 40-49, ≤39, ≥70 years. Conclusion: Korean CRC has some distinct characteristics and survival patterns in terms of tumor distribution, stage, sex, and age. With time, survival outcomes have improved for both local and regional, but not distant, stage tumors.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank the members of the Korean Colorectal Cancer Study Group for conception and design, data analysis and interpretation, and final approval of the manuscript. This study was supported by a grant from the National Cancer Center (NCC-1610200).
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