Clinical Delays and Comparative Outcomes in Younger and Older Adults with Colorectal Cancer: A Systematic Review

Outcome disparities between adults <50 with colorectal cancer (CRC) and older adults may be explained by clinical delays. This study synthesized the literature comparing delays and outcomes between younger and older adults with CRC. Databases were searched until December 2021. We included studies published after 1990 reporting delay in adults <50 that made comparisons to older adults. Comparisons were described narratively and stage between age groups was meta-analyzed. 39 studies were included representing 185,710 younger CRC patients and 1,422,062 older patients. Sixteen delay intervals were compared. Fourteen studies (36%) found significantly longer delays among younger adults, and nine (23%) found shorter delays among younger patients. Twelve studies compared time from symptom onset to diagnosis (N younger = 1538). Five showed significantly longer delays for younger adults. Adults <50 years also had higher odds of advanced stage (16 studies, pooled OR for Stage III/IV 1.76, 95% CI 1.52–2.03). Ten studies compared time from diagnosis to treatment (N younger = 171,726) with 4 showing significantly shorter delays for younger adults. All studies showing longer delays for younger adults examined pre-diagnostic intervals. Three studies compared the impact of delay on younger versus older adult. One showed longer delays were associated with advanced stage and worse survival in younger but not older adults. Longer delays among younger adults with CRC occur in pre-diagnostic intervals.


Matthew Castelo, Colin Sue-Chue-Lam, Lawrence Paszat, Adena S. Scheer, Bettina E. Hansen, Teruko Kishibe, and Nancy N. Baxter

Publication Date

12 November 2022


Current Oncology


Resource Type


Cancer Type