Colorectal Cancer: Germany Experiences a Reversal of Trends after Implementing Successful Screening Programs

2 February 2017 (Last Updated February 2nd, 2017 09:51)

Cancer represents an increasing burden on world health; however, analysis of cancer statistics can help governments to develop effective cancer prevention programs.

Colorectal Cancer: Germany Experiences a Reversal of Trends after Implementing Successful Screening Programs

Cancer represents an increasing burden on world health; however, analysis of cancer statistics can help governments to develop effective cancer prevention programs. In 2002, Germany introduced colonoscopy screening to the German national statutory cancer screening program, aiming to detect and remove precancerous polyps in the population ages 55 years and older. GlobalData epidemiologists have analyzed historical incidence rates of colorectal cancer (CRC) before and after the introduction of screening programs, revealing a decreasing disease rate.

In the 2000s, many European countries increased efforts to establish organized screening programs and published guidelines for screening cancers such as CRC, which is one of the deadliest cancers as well as one of the most common (Ouakrim et al., 2015). However, GlobalData projects that most of the five major EU markets (5EU: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK) will continue to experience a modest rise in the number of diagnosed incident cases of CRC, despite screening efforts. Germany is the exception, achieving a reversal of trends due to the introduction of screening as well as the availability of more up-to-date epidemiological data.

An epidemiological study found that by 2012, within 10 years of the introduction of colonoscopies, Germany experienced a decline in age-standardized incidence rates of about 14% (Brenner et al., 2016). GlobalData’s epidemiology forecast to 2025 captures this changing pattern and predicts that Germany will continue to experience a decline in incidence rates in the population ages 55 year and older, but not in younger ages (EpiCast Report: Colorectal Cancer (CRC) – Epidemiology Forecast to 2025). Declining incidence rates highlight the importance of primary prevention strategies, such as cancer screening, in decreasing the burden of disease at a population level.

While it is possible that other EU countries are experiencing changes in incidence rates already, such progress in CRC prevention will not be captured in forecasts until more recent cancer surveillance data become available.

The figure above compares the predicted trends of diagnosed incidence for 2015–2025 for the 5EU, based on the most recently available cancer incidence data.

Details about the trend analysis and other discussions of CRC epidemiology can be found in the EpiCast Report: Colorectal Cancer (CRC) – Epidemiology Forecast to 2025 and the EpiCast Model: Colorectal Cancer (CRC) – Epidemiology Forecast to 2025.