J Korean Med Assoc.  2022 Sep;65(9):549-557. 10.5124/jkma.2022.65.9.549.

Epidemiology, risk factors, and prevention of colorectal cancer

  • 1Department of Surgery, Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


Colorectal cancer remains the fourth most common malignancy in Korea, and has been ranked as the third leading cause of cancer deaths in 2020. This study aims to describe the epidemiologic status of colorectal cancer in Korea, and provide basic data for effective primary and secondary prevention methods by summarizing risk factors and screening tools.
Current Concepts
Although colorectal cancer incidence and mortality have decreased in recent years in Korea, it still poses a significant public health burden. From the early 1990s until the mid-2000s, the 5-year relative survival of patients with colorectal cancer in Korea continuously increased. This can be attributed to the successful introduction of the government-led screening program; development of improved surgical techniques, anticancer drugs, and adjuvant treatment; and advances medical resources and infrastructure along with economic growth. However, since the late 2000s, the improvement in survival has stagnated. The coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak has reduced hospital visits and screenings, which is assumed to cause delays in diagnosis, leading to a worse prognosis in the patients. To overcome these obstacles, it is essential to explore modifiable environmental risk factors and appropriate screening test methods in Korea.
Discussion and Conclusion
Primary prevention through risk factor modification and secondary prevention using suitable screening programs can reduce the incidence and mortality rates of colorectal cancer.


Colorectal neoplasms; Epidemiology; Risk factors; Mass screening; 대장암; 역학; 위험인자; 선별검사
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