We investigated the effects of socioeconomic indicators, demographic indicators and health-related indicators on the incidence of and survival from colon cancer and rectal cancer diagnosed in 1994-2003 with follow-up through 2006 in Denmark using information from nationwide registers. The analyses were based on data on 9958 patients with colon cancer and 7411 patients with rectal cancer in a cohort of 3.22 million people born between 1925 and 1973 and aged >or=30 years. Higher incidences of colon and rectal cancers were associated with greater social disadvantage, predominantly amongst men, in regard to cohabiting status, housing tenure, dwelling size and affiliation to the work market. Comorbidity was associated with a higher incidence of colon cancer in both sexes. Short- and long-term relative survival from both colon and rectal cancers decreased with poorer education, disposable income, affiliation to the work market, housing tenure, dwelling size and cohabiting status.