Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common type of cancer diagnosed in the United States among men and women, and is also the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths.1 However, both the overall incidence of CRC and associated deaths has steadily declined since the mid- to late-1980s in the United States.2 Yet, the opposite is true among individuals younger than 50 years.

CRC Incidence and Mortality in Young People

The incidence of CRC among young people has risen by 2.2% each year since the mid-1990s and now accounts for 12% of CRC diagnoses.2 The median age of diagnosis has shifted from 72 years between 2001 and 2002 to 66 years between 2015 and 2016. This trend of rising incidence among younger people has also been observed in other high-resource countries such as Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia.3

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CRC Incidence and Mortality Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups

The decline in the incidence and mortality of CRC has declined among all races and ethnicities in the United States, but at different rates.2,4 The incidence rates of CRC differs across racial subgroups, with the highest incidence among non-Hispanic Black individuals, followed by American Indian/Alaskan Native, and non-Hispanic White individuals, with the lowest rates among Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders.2

Importantly, the incidence of CRC was 50% higher among Blacks individuals than Asian Americans/Pacific Islander individuals, and 20% higher than White individuals between 2012 and 2016. This disparity persists among young people, among whom the proportion of CRC diagnoses is highest among non-Hispanic Black individuals at 16% compared with 9% among non-Hispanic White patients.5

The rate of death due to CRC also differs by race/ethnicity.4 Regardless of stage of disease, the longest overall survival is found among Asian American/Pacific Islander groups, followed by Hispanic groups, non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Native groups, and non-Hispanic White groups, with the shortest survival found among non-Hispanic Black groups.