Colorectal Cancer Overview

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Survival rates for colorectal cancer

Some people with cancer may want to know the survival rates for their type of cancer. 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 is the percentage of patients who are alive 5 years after their cancer is found. The numbers here 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. This means the percentage of people surviving the colon cancer itself is likely to be higher, and many of them live much longer than 5 years.

While the numbers below are among the most current we have, they are from people who were first treated many years ago. Because cancer treatment continues to improve, the survival rates for people now may be higher. These numbers come from the 7th edition of the AJCC staging manual published in 2010.

Survival rates for colon cancer by stage

    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 IIIA than for some stage IIB. The reasons for this are not clear.

Survival rates for rectal cancer by stage

    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.

These numbers give you an overall picture, but keep in mind that every person is different and statistics can't predict exactly what will happen in your case. Talk with your cancer care team if you have questions about your own chances of a cure or how long you might survive your cancer. They know your situation best.


Last Medical Review: 08/15/2013
Last Revised: 01/31/2014