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Geographic variation and factors associated with colorectal cancer incidence in Manitoba

Harminder Singh, Zoann Nugent, Kathleen Decker, Alain Demers, Jewel Samadder, Mahmoud Torabi


OBJECTIVES: Although individuals living in areas with lower household income have been shown to have higher rates of mortality from colorectal cancer (CRC), findings on the effect of income on CRC incidence in countries with universal health care have been inconsistent. There are limited data from Canada. We investigated the geographic variation and factors associated with CRC incidence in Manitoba, a central Canadian province.

METHODS: The Manitoba Cancer Registry and Manitoba Health population registry were used to determine age-sex-standardized CRC incidence rates between 1985 and 2012, which were geocoded to 498 small geographic areas (SGAs). The 2001 Canadian Census was used to determine the socio-demographic characteristics of the SGAs. Bayesian spatial Poisson modelling was used to assess geographic variation and factors associated with CRC incidence.

RESULTS: CRC incidence in SGAs ranged from 11 to 1026 per 100 000 population per year. Importantly, in the fully adjusted model there was no significant association between either average household income or proportion of recent immigrants in the SGAs and CRC incidence. Individuals living in urban areas had an overall lower CRC incidence (incidence rate ratio: 0.76; 95% credible interval: 0.58–0.98).

CONCLUSIONS: In a province with a universal health care system, our study suggests there are no disparities in CRC incidence by socio-economic level of the areas of residence. Rural areas should be a focus of CRC reduction initiatives in Manitoba. Similar analysis in other jurisdictions should be performed to evaluate the effect of the characteristics of SGAs on CRC incidence in different settings and target some of the efforts to reduce CRC burden.


Epidemiology; spatial analysis; variation in risk; disparities

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