VA Colorectal Cancer Data Similar to Overall U.S.

DURHAM, NC — Colorectal cancer data from the VA often is underrepresented in U.S. cancer reporting, according to a new study seeking to remedy that.

The report in Clinical Colorectal Cancer describes veterans with incident CRC in terms of their patient and tumor characteristics and mortality.1

To do that, a study team led by researchers from the Durham, NC, VAMC identified patients diagnosed or treated with CRC at any VA institution in the fiscal years 2009 to 2012 using three data sources: (1) VA Central Cancer Registry (VACCR); (2) VA Corporate Data Warehouse; and (3) VA Reports and Measures Portal.

The study team then examined CRC frequencies within the VA population and survival curves and compared them with the national projections using Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program data.

With 12,551 veterans with CRC included in the analysis, the median age at diagnosis was found to be 65.5 years, with 97% diagnosed among men. Results noted that about 44% of the patients were diagnosed with localized disease and that age and stage at diagnosis determined the three-year survival rate.

The study also said it identified a possible decrease in VA CRC incidence over time.

“Although the VA CRC patient population was heavily skewed toward the male gender, the patient and tumor characteristics were similar between the incident CRC cases reported by the VACCR and those reported to the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program,” the authors concluded. “This suggests that research findings resulting from the VACCR might have applicability beyond the VA healthcare system setting.”

  1. Zullig LL, Smith VA, Jackson GL, Danus S, et. al. Colorectal Cancer Statistics From the Veterans Affairs Central Cancer Registry. Clin Colorectal Cancer. 2016Dec;15(4):e199-e204. doi: 10.1016/j.clcc.2016.04.005. Epub 2016 May 7. PubMed PMID: 27301717; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5099105.

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