Colorectal Cancer

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What Is Colon/Rectum Cancer? TOPICS

What are the key statistics about colorectal cancer?

Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society's estimates for the number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2014 are:

  • 96,830 new cases of colon cancer
  • 40,000 new cases of rectal cancer

Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20 (5%). This risk is slightly lower in women than in men. A number of other factors (described in the section “What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?”) can also affect a person's risk for developing colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined. It is expected to cause about 50,310 deaths during 2014.

The death rate (the number of deaths per 100,000 people per year) from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for more than 20 years. There are a number of likely reasons for this. One is that polyps are being found by screening and removed before they can develop into cancers. Screening is also allowing more colorectal cancers to be found earlier when the disease is easier to cure. In addition, treatment for colorectal cancer has improved over the last several years. As a result, there are now more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.

Statistics related to survival among people with colorectal cancer are discussed in the section “What are the survival rates for colorectal cancer by stage?


Last Medical Review: 10/15/2014
Last Revised: 10/31/2014