BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer is the second most frequent cancer in Malaysia. Nevertheless, there is little information on treatment and outcomes nationally. We aimed to determine the demographic, clinical and treatment characteristics of colorectal cancer patients treated at the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) as part of a larger project on survival and quality of life outcomes. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Medical records of 1,212 patients undergoing treatment in UMMC between January 2001 and December 2010 were reviewed. A retrospective-prospective cohort study design was used. Research tools included the National Cancer Patient Registration form. Statistical analysis included means, standard deviations (SD), proportions, chi square, t-test/ ANOVA. P-value significance was set at 0.05. RESULTS: The male: female ratio was 1.2:1. The mean age was 62.1 (SD12.4) years. Patients were predominantly Chinese (67%), then Malays (18%), Indians (13%) and others (2%). Malays were younger than Chinese and Indians (mean age 57 versus 62 versus 62 years, p<0.001). More females (56%) had colon cancers compared to males (44%) (p=0.022). Malays (57%) had more rectal cancer compared to Chinese (45%) and Indians (49%) (p=0.004). Dukes' stage data weres available in 67%, with Dukes' C and D accounting for 64%. Stage was not affected by age, gender, ethnicity or tumor site. Treatment modalities included surgery alone (40%), surgery and chemo/radiotherapy 32%, chemo and radiotherapy (8%) and others (20%). CONCLUSIONS: Significant ethnic differences in age and site distribution, if verified in population-based settings, would support implementation of preventive measures targeting those with the greatest need, at the right age.