Journal Articles

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Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology


Colorectal cancer (CRC) epidemiology is changing due to a birth cohort effect, first recognized by increasing incidence of early onset CRC (EOCRC, age <50 >years). In this paper, we define "birth cohort CRC" as the observed phenomenon, among individuals born 1960 and later, of increasing CRC risk across successive birth cohorts, rising EOCRC incidence, increasing incidence among individuals aged 50 to 54 years, and flattening of prior decreasing incidence among individuals aged 55 to 74 years. We demonstrate birth cohort CRC is associated with unique features, including increasing rectal cancer (greater than colon) and distant (greater than local) stage CRC diagnosis, and increasing EOCRC across all racial/ethnic groups. We review potential risk factors, etiologies, and mechanisms for birth cohort CRC, using EOCRC as a starting point and describing importance of viewing these through the lens of birth cohort. We also outline implications of birth cohort CRC for epidemiologic and translational research, as well as current clinical practice. We postulate that recognition of birth cohort CRC as an entity-including and extending beyond rising EOCRC-can advance understanding of risk factors, etiologies, and mechanisms, and address the public health consequences of changing CRC epidemiology.


Humans, Colorectal Neoplasms, Birth Cohort, Rectal Neoplasms, Racial Groups, Risk Factors

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