• cohort study;
  • colorectal cancer;
  • diet;
  • survival


Background:  Much research has investigated possible links between diet and the risk of colorectal cancer, but little is known about whether dietary habits influence prognosis following diagnosis.

Methods:  Incident cases of colorectal cancer were ascertained among participants of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study, a prospective cohort study of 41 528 Australians recruited between 1990 and 1994. Eligible participants had to be diagnosed with a first colorectal cancer between recruitment and 1 August 2002. At recruitment, participants answered a detailed food frequency questionnaire regarding their usual diet. Information on tumor site and stage, treatments given, recurrences and deaths was obtained from a systematic review of medical records.

Results:  Altogether, 526 cases of colorectal cancer were ascertained in the follow-up period. Median follow up time among survivors was 5.5 years and 208 deaths had occurred, including 181 from colorectal cancer. The usual diet measured before diagnosis was not associated with either all-cause, or colorectal cancer-specific, mortality. No association was observed for diets high in meat, fruit, vegetables or fiber.

Conclusions:  Our study shows no association between usual diet measured sometime before diagnosis and survival from colorectal cancer.