Colon Cancer Statistics
Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the US. The American Cancer Society estimates that 142,820 people will be diagnosed in 2013 and that 50,830 will die from colon cancer in the United States.
On average, the lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is about one in 20 (5%), however, this varies widely according to individual risk factors.
About 72% of cases arise in the colon and about 28% in the rectum.
With regular screening, colon cancer can be found early, when treatment is most effective. In many cases, screening can prevent colon cancer by finding and removing polyps before they become cancer. And if cancer is present, earlier detection means a chance at a longer life -- generally, five-year survival rates for colon cancer are lower the further advanced the disease is at detection:
- Over 90% of those diagnosed when the cancer is found at a local stage (confined to colon or rectum) survive more than five years.
- Once the cancer is diagnosed at a regional stage (spread to surrounding tissue) that rate drops to 69%.
- When the cancer has also spread to distant sites, only 12% of those diagnosed will reach the five-year survival milestone.
Stage at Diagnosis
Unfortunately, the majority of colon cancers are not found early (before it has spread):
- 39% of colon cancers are found while the cancer is found at a local stage (confined to colon or rectum).
- 37% of colon cancers are found after the cancer is diagnosed at a regional stage (spread to surrounding tissue).
- 20% of colon cancers are found after the disease has spread to distant organs.
Colon Cancer and Age
- 90% of new cases and 95% of deaths from colon cancer occur in people 50 or older. However, colon cancer does not discriminate and can happen to men and women at any age.
- While rates for colon cancer in adults 50 and older have been declining, incidence rates in adults younger than 50 years has been increasing.
- Just launched! New pages with tons of information about young-onset colon cancer, who’s at highest risk and resources for you. Check them out!
Colon Cancer and Ethnicity and Race
- Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) may have a higher rate of colon cancer.
- Partly because of disproportionate screening, African-American men and women have a higher risk of developing colon cancer and a lower survival rate (about 20% higher incidence rate and 45% higher mortality rate) compared to Caucasians, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans.
- The risk of death is also increased for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives.
Colon Cancer and Family History
- People with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or children) who has colon cancer are between two and three times the risk of developing the cancer than those without a family history.
Colon Cancer Survival Rates
Since the mid-1980s, the colon cancer death rate has been dropping due in part to increased awareness and screening. By finding more polyps and cancer in the earlier (local and regional) stages, it is easiest to treat. Improved treatment options have also contributed to a rise in survival rates.
- The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the local stage is 90%.
- The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the regional stage is 70%.
- The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the distant stage is 12%.
There are currently more than one million colon cancer survivors alive in the US.