Colorectal Cancer: Statistics

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2013

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about how many people learn they have this type of cancer each year and some general survival information. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among both men and women in the United States. It is also the third most common cause of cancer death among men and women separately (and the second most common cause of cancer death in men and women combined) in the United States.

This year, an estimated 136,830 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. These numbers include 96,830 new cases of colon cancer and 40,000 new cases of rectal cancer. It is estimated that 50,310 deaths (26,270 men and 24,040 women) will occur.

When colorectal cancer is found early, it can often be cured. The death rate from this type of cancer has been declining for most of the past 20 years, possibly because it is usually diagnosed earlier now and treatments have improved.

The five-year survival rate is the percentage of people who survive at least five years after the cancer is detected, excluding those who die from other diseases. Survival rates for colorectal cancer can vary based on a variety of factors, particularly the stage. The five-year survival rate of people with localized stage colorectal cancer is 90%. If the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or organs, the five-year survival rate is 70%. If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the five-year survival rate is 13%. However, for patients who have just one or a few tumors that have spread from the colon to the lung or liver, surgical removal of these tumors can eliminate the cancer, which greatly improves the five-year survival rate for these patients.

Cancer survival statistics should be interpreted with caution. These estimates are based on data from thousands of people with this type of cancer in the United States each year, but the actual risk for a particular individual may differ. It is not possible to tell a person how long he or she will live with colorectal cancer. Because the survival statistics are measured in five-year intervals, they may not represent advances made in the treatment or diagnosis of this cancer. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2014.

To continue reading this guide, use the menu on the side of your screen to select another section.