The incidence of colorectal cancer has, in general, decreased in New Zealand. On the other hand, incidence of rectal cancer has increased in people below 50 years of age, revealed a recent study.
Among individuals aged under 50 years, the incidence of distal colonic cancer in men increased by 14% per decade. The incidence of rectal cancer in men increased by 18% and in women by 13%.
‘New Zealand has some of the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the world.’
In those aged 50-79 years, there was a reduction in incidence per decade of proximal, distal, and rectal cancers in both sexes.
In individuals aged 80 years and older, proximal cancer incidence per decade increased by 19% in women and by 25% in men; among women, the incidence of distal colonic cancer decreased by 8%, as did that of rectal cancer.
The study's investigators noted that New Zealand has among the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the world, with a median annual age-standardized rate per 10,000 of 55 for men and 44 for women.
A national colorectal cancer screening programme has been piloted, but it has yet to be introduced.
The findings are published in the British Journal of Surgery.