Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

It’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month


For colorectal cancer awareness month, we go behind the frequent calls for you to get screened. Let’s review the data and remind you why the disease itself is so devastating. This 2018 data is provided courtesy of the National Cancer Institute. They are based on statistics from SEER and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Cancer of the Colon and Rectum

Illustration of lower digestive system.
Anatomy of the Lower Digestive System 

First things first: The digestive system is made up of the esophagus, stomach, and the small and large intestines. The first six feet of the large intestine are called the large bowel or colon. The last six inches are the rectum and the anal canal.

Cancer that begins in the colon is called colon cancer. When it begins in the rectum, it is called rectal cancer. Cancer that starts in either of these organs may also be called colorectal cancer.

How Common Is Colorectal Cancer?

Compared to other cancers, colorectal cancer is fairly common. It is the fourth ranked with respect to new cases. It is the second ranked in terms of deaths produced.

Rank Common Types of Cancer Estimated New
Cases 2018
Deaths 2018
1. Breast Cancer (Female) 266,120 40,920
2. Lung and Bronchus Cancer 234,030 154,050
3. Prostate Cancer 164,690 29,430
4. Colorectal Cancer 140,250 50,630
5. Melanoma of the Skin 91,270 9,320
6. Bladder Cancer 81,190 17,240
7. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma 74,680 19,910
8. Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer 65,340 14,970
9. Uterine Cancer 63,230 11,350
10. Leukemia 60,300 24,370

Colorectal cancer represents 8.1% of all new cancer cases in the U.S.

Colorectal cancer deaths


For 2018, it was estimated that there would be 140,250 new cases of colorectal cancer and an estimated 50,630 people dying of this disease.

Prevalence of Colorectal Cancer

In 2015, there were an estimated 1,332,085 people living with colorectal cancer in the United States.

Number of New Cases and Deaths per 100,000

The number of new cases of colorectal cancer was 39.4 per 100,000 men and women per year. The number of deaths was 14.5 per 100,000 men and women per year. These rates are age-adjusted and based on 2011-2015 cases and deaths.

Lifetime Risk of Developing Cancer

Approximately 4.2 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2013-2015 data.


How Many People Survive 5 Years Or More after Being Diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer?

Relative survival statistics compare the survival of patients diagnosed with cancer with the survival of people in the general population who are the same age, race, and sex and who have not been diagnosed with cancer. Because survival statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. No two patients are entirely alike, and treatment and responses to treatment can vary greatly.


Percent Surviving 5 Years: 64.5%

Based on data from SEER 18 2008-2014. The gray figures represent those who have died from colorectal cancer. Green figures represent those who have survived 5 years or more.

Who Gets Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer is more common in men than women and among those of African American descent. The number of new cases of colorectal cancer was 39.4 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2011-2015 cases.

Number of New Cases per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Colorectal Cancer

All Races 45.2
White 44.4
Black 55.5
Asian/Pacific Islander 39.3
American Indian/Alaska Native 45.1
Hispanic 39.7
Non-Hispanic 46.2
All Races 34.5
White 34.0
Black 41.9
Asian/Pacific Islander 28.0
American Indian/Alaska Native 39.2
Hispanic 28.6
Non-Hispanic 35.5

Percent of New Cases by Age Group: Colorectal Cancer

Age Range Percent of New Cases
<20 0.2%
20-34 1.6%
35-44 4.4%
45-54 15.0%
55-64 22.6%
65-74 24.3%
75-84 20.6%
>84 11.4%

Colorectal cancer is most frequently diagnosed among people aged 65-74.

Median Age At Diagnosis: 67

Survival: Who Dies From This Cancer?

For colorectal cancer, death rates increase with age. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The number of deaths was 14.5 per 100,000 men and women per year based on 2011-2015 deaths.

Number of Deaths per 100,000 Persons by Race/Ethnicity & Sex: Colorectal Cancer

All Races 17.3
White 16.8
Black 24.4
Asian/Pacific Islander 12.1
American Indian/Alaska Native 20.2
Hispanic 14.7
Non-Hispanic 17.6
All Races 12.2
White 11.9
Black 16.1
Asian/Pacific Islander 8.6
American Indian/Alaska Native 13.6
Hispanic 9.0
Non-Hispanic 12.5


Percent of Deaths by Age Group: Colorectal Cancer

Age Range Percent of Deaths
<20 0.0%
20-34 0.7%
35-44 2.6%
45-54 9.4%
55-64 18.6%
65-74 22.8%
75-84 24.8%
>84 21.0%

The percent of colorectal cancer deaths is highest among people aged 75-84.

Median Age At Death is 73

U.S. 2011-2015, All Races, Both Sexes

There’s More!

Read this Straight, No Chaser post on colorectal cancer screening. Please have this conversation with your physician. It could save your life.

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