INTRODUCTION: Despite overall reductions in colorectal cancer (CRC) morbidity and mortality, survival disparities by sex persist among young patients (age <50 years). Our study sought to quantify variance in early-onset CRC survival accounted for by individual/community-level characteristics among a population-based cohort of US women. METHODS: Geographic hot spots-counties with high early-onset CRC mortality rates among women-were derived using 3 geospatial autocorrelation approaches with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention national mortality data. We identified women (age: 15-49 years) diagnosed with CRC from 1999 to 2016 in the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program. Patterns of community health behaviors by hot spot classification were assessed by Spearman correlation (ρ). Generalized R values were used to evaluate variance in survival attributed to individual/community-level features. RESULTS: Approximately 1 in every 16 contiguous US counties identified as hot spots (191 of 3,108), and 52.9% of hot spot counties (n = 101) were located in the South. Among 28,790 women with early-onset CRC, 13.7% of cases (n = 3,954) resided in hot spot counties. Physical inactivity and fertility were community health behaviors that modestly correlated with hot spot residence among women with early-onset CRC (ρ = 0.21 and ρ = -0.23, respectively; P < 0.01). Together, individual/community-level features accounted for distinct variance patterns in early-onset CRC survival among women (hot spot counties: 33.8%; non-hot spot counties: 34.1%). DISCUSSION: Individual/community-level features accounted for approximately one-third of variation in early-onset CRC survival among women and differed between hot spot vs non-hot spot counties. Understanding the impact of community health behaviors-particularly in regions with high early-onset CRC mortality rates-is critical for tailoring strategies to reduce early-onset CRC disparities.
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