Colorectal Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2016

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about how many people are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year. You will also learn some general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. To see other pages, use the menu.

In the United States, colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed each year for all adults combined. Separately, it is the third most common cancer in men and third most common cancer in women.

This year, an estimated 134,490 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. These numbers include 95,270 new cases of colon cancer and 39,220 new cases of rectal cancer.

It is estimated that 49,190 deaths (26,020 men and 23,170 women) will be attributed to colon or rectal cancer this year. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

Colorectal cancer is commonly diagnosed among older patients, with an average age of 72 at the time of diagnosis in the United States. Older patients who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer face unique challenges, specifically with regard to cancer treatment. For more information, please visit Cancer.Net’s section about aging and cancer.

When colorectal cancer is found early, it can often be cured. The death rate from this type of cancer has been declining since the mid-1980s, possibly because it is usually diagnosed earlier now and treatments have improved.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The 5-year survival rate for people with colorectal cancer is 65%. The 10-year survival rate is 58%. However, survival rates for colorectal cancer can vary based on a variety of factors, particularly the stage.

The 5-year survival rate of people with localized stage colorectal cancer is 90%. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 71%. If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 13%. However, for patients who have just 1 or a few tumors that have spread from the colon or rectum to the lung or liver, surgical removal of these tumors can eliminate the cancer, which greatly improves the 5-year survival rate for these patients.

It is important to remember that statistics on how many people survive this type of cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from data based on thousands of people with this cancer in the United States each year. So, your own risk may be different. Doctors cannot say for sure how long anyone will live with colorectal cancer. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. This means that the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2016.

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by this disease. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.