Colorectal Cancer

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

What are the survival rates for colorectal cancer by stage?

Survival rates are often used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person's prognosis (outlook). Some patients may want to know the survival statistics for people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. If you decide that you don’t want to know them, stop reading here and skip to the next section.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Of course, many people live much longer than 5 years (and many are cured).

In order to get 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment since then may result in a more favorable outlook for people now being diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they cannot predict what will happen in any particular person's case. Knowing the type and the stage of a person's cancer is important in estimating their outlook. But many other factors may also affect a person's outlook, such as the grade of the cancer, the genetic changes in the cancer cells, the treatment received, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. Even when taking these other factors into account, survival rates are at best rough estimates. Your doctor can tell you if the numbers below may apply, as he or she is familiar with the aspects of your particular situation.

Survival rates for colon cancer by stage

The numbers below come from the 7th edition of the AJCC staging manual published in 2010. They are based on a study of the National Cancer Institute's SEER database, looking at more than 28,000 people diagnosed with colon cancer between 1998 and 2000.

These are observed survival rates. They include people diagnosed with colon cancer who may have later died from other causes, such as heart disease. People with colon cancer tend to be older and may have other serious health conditions. Therefore, the percentage of people surviving the colon cancer itself is likely to be higher.

    Stage

    5-year Observed
    Survival Rate

    I

    74%

    IIA

    67%

    IIB

    59%

    IIC

    37%

    IIIA

    73%*

    IIIB

    46%*

    IIIC

    28%

    IV

    6%

*In this study, survival was better for some stage III cancers than for some stage II cancers. The reasons for this are not clear.

Survival rates for rectal cancer by stage

The numbers below come from the 7th edition of the AJCC staging manual published in 2010. They are based on a study of the National Cancer Institute's SEER database, looking at nearly 10,000 people diagnosed with rectal cancer between 1998 and 2000.

These are observed survival rates. They include people diagnosed with rectal cancer who may have later died from other causes, such as heart disease. People with rectal cancer tend to be older and may have other serious health conditions. Therefore, the percentage of people surviving the rectal cancer itself is likely to be higher.

    Stage

    5-year Observed
    Survival Rate

    I

    74%

    IIA

    65%

    IIB

    52%

    IIC

    32%

    IIIA

    74%*

    IIIB

    45%*

    IIIC

    33%

    IV

    6%

*In this study, survival was better for some stage III cancers than for some stage II cancers. The reasons for this are not clear.


Last Medical Review: 07/30/2013
Last Revised: 01/31/2014