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Colorectal Cancer Research Highlights

The American Cancer Society (ACS) helps find answers to critical questions about colorectal cancer (CRC).

  • What causes it?
  • How can it be successfully prevented, detected, and treated?
  • What is the best age to start screening?
  • How can the quality of life for colorectal cancer survivors be improved?

Studying questions like these has helped improve screening and treatment methods, which has contributed to substantial decreases in deaths from colorectal cancer over the past 20 years. Thank you to all our donors who make this research possible.

55% of Colorectal Cancer Cases & Deaths Have the Potential to Be Prevented with Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most common cancer worldwide and the 2nd leading cause of death from cancer. It's estimated that about 55% of colorectal cases and deaths could be attributed to modifiable risk factors, such as certain diets, not being physically active, smoking, and drinking alcohol. 

Data Shows Rapid Shifts to More Advanced Disease and Younger People

We need to invest more in research to uncover the causes of the rising trends and to discover new treatment for advanced-stage diseases to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with this disease in this young population, who are raising families and supporting other family members."

Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD

Senior Vice President, Surveillance & Health Equity Science

American Cancer Society

close up portrait of Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD, Scientific Vice President, Surveillance and Health Services Research ACS

Striking Trends for Colorectal Cancer Incidence

1% to 2%

increase each year from the mid1990s for cases of colorectal cancer in people younger than 55


decline each year 2011-2019 for cases of colorectal cancer in people 65+ 


increase each year from the mid2000s for deaths from colorectal cancer in people younger than 55


decline each year for the past 10 years for deaths from colorectal cancer in people 65+ 

Eye-opening Statistics about the Youngest Adults Eligible for Screening


percentage of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer with a family history, which is why their screening should start before age 45


percentage of rectal cancers in people younger than age 50, compared to 24% in those 65+


colorectal cancer screening rate for people ages 45 to 49 - lower than for ages 50 to 65 and 65 and older


how much being physically active can reduce your risk of developing colon cancer

Featured Term: Gut Microbiome

The gut microbiome is a collection of microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi that mostly live in the digestive tract. Every person's gut microbiome is uniquely shaped by their diet, lifestyle, genetics, and environment. Gut bacteria help with day-to-day functions like synthesizing vitamins, digesting food, and metabolizing drugs. They also help regulate the immune system and protect the body from potentially harmful bacteria. Recent findings have shown that the gut microbiome can help cancer grow and also help keep it from growing.

We Fund Cancer Researchers Across the US

The ACS funds scientists who conduct research about breast cancer at medical schools, universities, research institutes, and hospitals throughout the United States. We use a rigorous and independent peer review process to select the most innovative research project proposals to fund. 


colorectal cancer grants


funding for colorectal cancer