Open Access Open Badges Research article

Trends in colorectal cancer incidence: a period and birth-cohort analysis in a well-defined French population

Marion Chauvenet, Vanessa Cottet, Côme Lepage, Valérie Jooste, Jean Faivre and Anne-Marie Bouvier*

Author Affiliations

Registre Bourguignon des Cancers Digestifs; Inserm U866; Université de Bourgogne; CHU Dijon, F-21079 BP 87900 21079 Dijon Cedex, France

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Cancer 2011, 11:282  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-282

Published: 30 June 2011



France stands among high-risk areas for colorectal cancer. Different trends in CRC incidence are reported around the world. The aim of this study was to provide temporal trends in CRC incidence over a 30-year period in a French well-defined population.


Between 1976 and 2005, 17,028 new cases were registered by the Burgundy digestive cancer registry. The mean variations in age-standardized incidence rates were estimated using a Poisson regression adjusted for age for each gender and location. The cumulative risk by birth cohort of developing a cancer over the age range 0-74 years was estimated using an age-cohort model.


Incidence rates for right and left colon cancers increased more rapidly in males (respectively +11.7% and +10.3% on average by 5-year period) than in females (respectively +5.9% and +6.1%). It remained stable for sigmoid cancers in males (-0.1%) and decreased in females (-5.2%). It also decreased for rectal cancers both in males (-2.7%) and in females (-2.0%). The cumulative risk increased from 3.9% for males born around 1900 to 4.9% for those born around 1930 and then slightly decreased (4.5% among those born around 1950). It remained at the same level for females born around 1900 (2.7%) as for those born around 1930 (2.7%) and then slightly increased (2.9%) for those born around 1950. For right colon cancers, the cumulative risk increased strikingly in successive birth cohorts from 0.53% to 1.2% in males and 0.55% to 0.77% in females. The corresponding cumulative risks for the left colon were 0.24% and 0.42% in males and 0.14% and 0.29% in females. For sigmoid cancer, they decreased from 1.59% to 1.08% in males, and 0.88% to 0.80% in females.


Temporal variations in incidence rates of colorectal cancers differed according to subsite, suggesting different aetiological factors and implications for diagnosis and screening strategies. Total colonoscopy must be the preferred strategy in high-risk groups or after a positive faecal occult blood test.