Colorectal Cancer Data in the Cancer Research Network
Background/Aims: Despite recent reductions in incidence and mortality, colorectal cancer remains the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States. Accordingly, research supported by initiatives such as the Cancer Research Network (CRN) is of utmost importance in further reducing the burden of this disease. The CRN is a consortium funded by the National Cancer Institute to support cancer research among a subset of HMORN sites. The data collected and maintained by the nine funded and six affiliate CRN sites facilitate a variety of colorectal cancer research opportunities.
Methods: Data from nine funded and two affiliate CRN sites were included in this analysis. Counts and characteristics of primary malignant colorectal tumors diagnosed during 2004–2012 were obtained from the CRN Cancer Counter, an informatics tool that provides aggregated counts to facilitate study planning. Site-specific descriptive analyses included annual counts of incident cases as well as distributions of demographic characteristics and American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) stage. Additional information — including updated diagnoses through 2013 and availability of treatment and site-specific factor data — will be obtained from a centrally developed SAS program to be run against the virtual data warehouse at participating sites in early 2015.
Results: From 2004 to 2012, more than 42,000 colorectal cancers were diagnosed among patients of 11 CRN sites; two Kaiser Permanente health plans (Northern and Southern California) accounted for more than 60% of all diagnoses. The majority (57%) of diagnoses occurred in persons aged 65+ years, although that proportion ranged from 36% to 76% across sites. AJCC stage was available for > 90% of total diagnoses with a range of 67% to 98% across sites. White persons comprised the majority (76%) of cases, although the proportion varied considerably (from 32% to 96%) by site.
Discussion: The CRN supports the infrastructure to maintain high-quality data (from local tumor registries as well as internal health plan systems) on patients diagnosed with cancer at participating sites. Furthermore, CRN sites encompass a wide distribution of geographic locations and patient characteristics. Thus, the CRN provides a uniquely data-rich setting in which to pursue colorectal cancer research.