April 17th, 2017 by Charlie Blackburn | NAACCReview Home Leave a comment

Hannah K. Weir, Ph.D, Senior Epidemiologist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(NAACCR Steering Committee Chair)

Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of premature death in the United States. This study reports that death rates from colorectal cancer have decreased in men and women in all socio-economic groups; however, large racial and socio-economic disparities persist. These disparities represent potentially avoidable premature deaths. Between 2008 and 2012, we estimated that of the 100,897 colorectal cancer deaths in residents of counties with lower-educational attainment, nearly 1 in 5 deaths may have been avoidable. These deaths resulted in nearly 2 billion dollars of lost productivity, annually.

Productivity losses due to premature cancer mortality are large and growing and, as this study has shown, disproportionately impact counties that are already economically disadvantaged, as these decedents are no longer contributing to the economic well being of their families or communities.


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Years of Life and Productivity Loss from Potentially Avoidable Colorectal Cancer Deaths in U.S. Counties with Lower Educational Attainment (2008–2012)

Hannah K.Weir, Chunyu Li, S. Jane Henley, and Djenaba Joseph | Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.

Background: Educational attainment (EA) is inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk. Colorectal cancer screening can save lives if precancerous polyps or early cancers are found and successfully treated. This study aims to estimate the potential productivity loss (PPL) and associated avoidable colorectal cancer–related deaths among screen-eligible adults residing in lower EA counties in the United States.

Methods: Mortality and population data were used to examine colorectal cancer deaths (2008–2012) among adults aged 50 to 74 years in lower EA counties, and to estimate the expected number of deaths using the mortality experience from high EA counties. Excess deaths (observed-expected) were used to estimate potential years life lost, and the human capital method was used to estimate PPL in 2012 U.S. dollars.

Results: County-level colorectal cancer death rates were inversely associated with county-level EA. Of the 100,857 colorectal cancer deaths in lower EA counties, we estimated that more than 21,000 (1 in 5) was potentially avoidable and resulted in nearly $2 billion annual productivity loss.

Conclusions: County-level EA disparities contribute to a large number of potentially avoidable colorectal cancer–related deaths. Increased prevention and improved screening potentially could decrease deaths and help reduce the associated economic burden in lower EA communities. Increased screening could further reduce deaths in all EA groups.

Impact: These results estimate the large economic impact of potentially avoidable colorectal cancer–related deaths in economically disadvantaged communities, as measured by lower

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 26(5); 1–7. _2016 AACR.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and may not represent the official positions of NAACCR.

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