September 7, 2021

Colorectal cancer research

Our research scientists, clinicians, medical groups, and health plan leaders collaborate, allowing us to contribute generalizable knowledge on colorectal cancer.

This brief summarizes the contributions of Kaiser Permanente Research since 2007 on the topic of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer refers to cancers that start in the colon or rectum, the lower parts of the digestive system.1 The incidence of these cancers in the United States has declined over the past several decades, due to improved uptake of screening through endoscopic methods or stool tests.1 Nevertheless, colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States.2 Colorectal cancer is caused by a mix of avoidable risk factors (such as smoking) and factors that cannot be avoided (such as genetics), but individuals can de- crease their chances of getting colorectal cancer through a variety of actions, including regular screening.1 The National Cancer Institute estimates that more than 1 in 25 U.S. men and women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime.2 In 2017, there were an estimated 135,430 new cases of colorectal cancer and more than 50,000 deaths.2

Publications related to colorectal cancer since 2007

577 Journal Articles, 18,800 Citations (a), 120 Practice Guideline References (b), 5 Clinical Decision Aid References (c )

Source: Kaiser Permanente Publications Library and PLUM metrics, as of December 30, 2020.

a. Number of citing journal articles, according to Scopus.
b. Number of references in PubMed guidelines.
c. Citations in DynaMed Plus, a point-of-care clinical reference tool.

Colorectal cancer is an active area of study for Kaiser Permanente Research. Scientists across the program have used our rich and comprehensive longitudinal data to advance knowledge in the areas of understanding risk, improving patient outcomes, and translating research findings into policy and practice. We have published 577 articles related to colorectal cancer since 2007.3 Together, these articles have been cited nearly 19,000 times.

These articles are the product of observational studies, randomized controlled trials, meta-analyses, and other studies led by Kaiser Permanente scientists. Our unique environment — a fully integrated care and coverage model in which our research scientists, clinicians, medical groups, and health plan leaders collaborate — lets us contribute generalizable knowledge on colorectal cancer, and many other topics of research.


  1. National Cancer Institute. Colorectal Cancer — Patient Version - National Cancer Institute. 2018; https://www.cancer. gov/types/colorectal. Accessed April 4, 2018.
  2. National Cancer Institute. Cancer Stat Facts: Colorectal Cancer. 2018; Accessed April 4, 2018.
  3. KPPL Search, conducted on February 28, 2019: ((title:(fecal OR faecal OR stool) AND (test or screen or exam or anal- ysis or evaluation)) OR (abstract:(fecal OR faecal OR stool) AND (test or screen or exam or analysis or evaluation)) OR abstract:Colonoscopy* OR title:Colonoscopy* OR title:Sigmoidoscop* OR title:”colorectal screening”~4 OR title:”rec- tal cancer”~4 OR title:”colorectal cancer”~4 OR title:”colon cancer”~4 OR (title:rectal AND title:(tumor OR tumors)) OR abstract:CRC OR abstract:”fecal immunochemical test” OR subject:”colorectal neoplasms” OR subject:”colonic neoplasms” OR subject:”rectal neoplasms” OR subject:colonoscopy OR subject:”Sigmoid Neoplasms”) AND dc. type:”Journal Article” AND [2007 2019].