Skip Navigation Archive: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Archive: Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archival print banner

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

Colorectal Cancer Hospitalization Rates Highest in the Elderly

AHRQ News and Numbers, March 19, 2009

AHRQ News and Numbers provides statistical highlights on the use and cost of health services and health insurance in the United States.

Two-thirds of hospital stays for colorectal cancer involve Americans age 65 and older, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

AHRQ's analysis also shows that when older patients with colorectal cancer are hospitalized not specifically for treating their cancer, the admission is often for complications, such as intestinal blockage or pneumonia.

The colon and rectum make up the lower part of the digestive system. Cancer of the colon and rectum are frequently reported together as colorectal cancer—the third most common type of cancer in the United States for both men and women.

AHRQ's analysis of colorectal cancer hospitalizations, based on 2006 data, found that:

  • Treatment of colorectal cancer as a primary reason for admission accounted for about 152,000 hospitalizations in 2006. About 420,000 additional hospitalizations were for complications associated with cancer, such as pneumonia.
  • About 4.5 percent—6,800—of the patients who were admitted for colorectal cancer died while hospitalized. This rate is much higher than the 2.6 percent overall death rate for the approximately 30 million hospital stays for all conditions that year.
  • While the admission rate for people hospitalized primarily for colorectal cancer declined 15 percent between 1995 and 2006, the hospitalization rate for patients who were admitted for other conditions but also had colorectal cancer increased 15 percent.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in Hospitalizations for Colorectal Cancer, 2006. The report uses statistics from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of March 2009
Internet Citation: Colorectal Cancer Hospitalization Rates Highest in the Elderly: AHRQ News and Numbers, March 19, 2009. March 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care