Colorectal Cancer in Minnesota - Minnesota Department of Health

Colorectal Cancer in Minnesota

For eligible men and women who meet age, insurance and income criteria, the Minnesota Department of Health Sage Scopes Screening Program offers free colonoscopies. Learn more about Sage Screening Programs.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis and second leading cause of cancer death in Minnesota for both men and women1.

  • Between 1988 and 2014, nearly 66,000 Minnesotans were diagnosed with a new cancer in the colon or rectum (colorectum) and slightly more than 24,000 Minnesotans died from colorectal cancer.
  • Minnesota data from 2010 to 2014 show an overall rate of 39.0 per 100,000 for colorectal cancer incidence; and data from 2009-2013 show a rate of 13.1 per 100,000 for colorectal cancer mortality.

This cancer becomes more common as we age.

Between 2010 and 2014, the majority (92%) of people diagnosed with colorectal cancers were 50 or more years of age.

  • The 2010 to 2014 age adjusted incidence rate (per 100,000) for colorectal cancer in Minnesota was 0.2 for children and youth less than 20 years of age; 11.1 for adults between 20 and 49 years of age; and 123.3 for adults age 50 or more years.

Men and women have different rates of colorectal cancer

Consistent with national trends, Minnesota men have higher rates of colorectal cancer than women. The difference in rates between men and women may reflect differences in diet, smoking rates, colorectal cancer screening rates, and sex hormones2.

  • From 2010 to 2014, the incidence rate for men was 43.8 per 100,000, and was 34.7 per 100,000 for women.

Trends in colorectal incidence and mortality differ by age group

Since 1988, Minnesota’s overall incidence rate of colorectal cancer has decreased1. However, declines in incidence and mortality have not been the same across all age groups, consistent with national trends.3

  • For Minnesotans between ages 20 and 49 years, incidence and mortality rates have been increasing since 1988 – by 1.7% per year for incidence and 0.9% per year for mortality.

    The exact reasons for the increased incidence among younger adults are unknown. But possible explanations include increases in the prevalence of diabetes and obesity, and other factors that increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.4
  • For those over 50 years of age, incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer has been decreasing since 1988 – by 2.1% per year for incidence and 2.8 percent per year for mortality.

    Research suggests that colorectal cancer screening and advances in treatment may account for some of the decreases in cancer incidence and mortality rates among people 50 or more years of age.2

Racial and ethnic disparities in colorectal cancer exist

The incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer differ by race and ethnicity. Reasons for the variation in rates may include differences in risk factors and access to care.


  • Based on 2009 to 2013 data, non-Hispanic whites and blacks have similar incidence to one another (38.8 and 41.1 per 100,000).
  • Minnesotans of Asian/Pacific Islander backgrounds have the lowest incidence rates in the state (30.9 per 100,000), followed by Hispanic white populations (34.7 per 100,000).
  • American Indians in Minnesota have the highest incidence rates at 63.6 per 100,000.


  • Minnesota colorectal cancer mortality rates for 2009-2013 also show variations by race/ethnicity. Non-Hispanic whites (13.5 per 100,000) and blacks (11.0 per 100,000) have similar colorectal cancer mortality.
  • Reversing the colorectal cancer incidence pattern, at 5.9 per 100,000, white Hispanic Minnesotans have the lowest colorectal cancer mortality rate in the state, and those of Asian/Pacific Islander background follow with a colorectal cancer mortality rate of 10.8 per 100,000.
  • American Indian Minnesotans have the highest mortality rates in the state, 30.2 per 100,000.

Colorectal cancer incidence and mortality differ across Minnesota regions

On average, the rates for colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates are lower in the seven-county metropolitan area compared to the rest of Minnesota.

  • Urban-rural health disparities in colorectal cancer incidence and mortality may stem from a combination of low colorectal cancer screening rates in rural areas5 as well as barriers to access to care and the availability of physicians.6,7

Find more health information about Colorectal Cancer Prevention and Control.

1"Colorectal Cancer: Facts & Figures." MN Public Health Data Access. Minnesota Department of Health. Web. <>.

2"Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2017-2019." American Cancer Society. Web. < statistics/colorectal-cancer-facts-and-figures/colorectal-cancer-facts-and-figures-2017-2019.pdf>.

3Siegel RL, Miller KD, Jemal A. “Cancer Statistics”. CA: A Journal for Clinicians;2016;66(1):7-30.

4Siegel RL, Jemal A, Ward EM. “Increase in Incidence of Colorectal Cancer among Young Men and Women in the United States.” Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 2009;18(6):1695-1698.

5Cole AM, Jackson JE, Doescher M. Urban-rural Disparities in Colorectal Cancer Screening: Cross-sectional Analysis of 1998-2005 Data from the Centers for Disease Control’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Study. Cancer Medicine 2012;1(3):350-56.

6Gunn, J. “Back to the Future: Minnesota’s Rural Health Workforce Shortages.” Minnesota Medicine, December 2013.

7Minnesota Department of Health, Health Economics Program and Office of Rural Health & Primary Care. Health Access in Rural Minnesota, April 2017. Minnesota Department of Health, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Updated Sunday, 27-Jan-2019 18:52:18 CST