Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer

How common is 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 2017 are:

  • 95,520 new cases of colon cancer
  • 39,910 new cases of rectal cancer

Lifetime risk of colorectal cancer

Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is: about 1 in 21 (4.7%) for men and 1 in 23 (4.4%) for women. This risk is slightly lower in women than in men. A number of other factors (described in Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors) can also affect your risk for developing colorectal cancer.

Deaths from colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the United States  and the second leading cause in men. It is expected to cause about 50,260 deaths during 2017.

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 several decades. There are a number of likely reasons for this. One is that colorectal polyps are now being found more often by screening and removed before they can develop into cancers or are being found earlier when the disease is easier to treat. In addition, treatment for colorectal cancer has improved over the last few decades. 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 What Are the Survival Rates for Colorectal Cancer, by Stage?

Visit the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Statistics Center for more key statistics.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2017. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society; 2017.

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Miller D, Bishop K, Altekruse SF, Kosary CL, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z, Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2013, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2013/, based on November 2015 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2016.

Lifetime Risk (Percent) of Being Diagnosed with Cancer by Site and Race/Ethnicity:

Males, 18 SEER Areas, 2011-2013 (Table 1.16) http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2013/browse_csr.php?sectionSEL=1&pageSEL=sect_01_table.16.html

Females, 18 SEER Areas, 2011-2013 (Table 1.17) http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2013/browse_csr.php?sectionSEL=1&pageSEL=sect_01_table.17.html. Accessed on April 5, 2017.

Libutti SK, Salz LB, Willett CG, Levine RA. Chapter 57: Cancer of the colon. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.

Van Schaeybroeck S, Lawler M, Johnston B, et al. Ch. 77 Colorectal cancer. In: Neiderhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2014.

Last Medical Review: October 15, 2016 Last Revised: April 6, 2017

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