A list of facts can be scary. As you consider the information here, remember that with on-time screening and timely evaluation of symptoms, colon cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable!
About Colorectal Cancer
- Colon cancer is cancer of the colon. Rectal cancer is cancer in the rectum. Together they are colorectal.
- It is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death.
- Colorectal cancer affects men and women equally, and people of all races and nationalities.
- Half of all new colorectal cancer diagnosis are in people 66 or younger.
- The 5-year relative survival rate for stage 1 and stage II colon cancer is 90%; the 5-year survival rate for patients diagnosed at stage III is 71% and stage IV is 14%.
- Often, those who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer have experienced no signs or symptoms associated with the disease.
- People with a parent, sibling, or offspring with colorectal cancer have 2 or 3 times the risk of developing colon cancer compared to those with no family history of the disease.
- While most people diagnosed with colon cancer have no family history of the disease, those with a family history should begin screening at an earlier age.
- When a relative is diagnosed at a young age or if there is more than one affected relative, the risk of developing colorectal cancer increases to three to six times that of the general population.
Colorectal Cancer in Young People
- By 2030, colorectal cancer may be the leading cause of cancer death in adults under 50.
- Annually, there will be about 18,000 cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed in people under 50, the equivalent of 49 new cases per day.
- One in five colorectal cancer patients are between 20 and 54 years old.
- 30% of CRC diagnoses are under age 55.
- The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age; 90% of cases are diagnosed in individuals 50 years of age and older.
- While rates of colorectal cancer have been declining among adults 50 years and older, incidence of colorectal cancer is increasing among adults under age 50.
- People born after 1990 have 2 times the risk of developing colon cancer and 4 times the risk of developing rectal cancer than those born in 1950.
- In 2020, there will be an estimated 49 new cases of colorectal cancer in people under 50 diagnosed a day, or 18,000 for the year.
- Younger adults were more likely than older adults to be diagnosed with late-stage colon or rectal cancers because they are under the recommended screening age.
Delayed CRC screening during COVID-19
COVID-19–related reductions in care including colorectal cancer screenings resulted in:
- an estimated 1.2 to 2 million fewer CRC screenings,
- 8,346 to 12,894 fewer CRC diagnoses, and
- 6,113 to 9,301 fewer early-stage colorectal cancer diagnoses between 2020 and 2023.
Colorectal Cancer in Black Americans
- Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in the African American community.
- Black/African Americans have the highest incidence and mortality rates for colorectal cancer.
- This population is about 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer and about 40% more likely to die than most other groups.
- USPSTF points to inequities in the access and quality of screening and treatment as the primary driver for this disparity, not genetic differences.
What About Screening?
- In 2021 the USPSTF lowered screening age recommendations, men and women should begin screening for colorectal cancer at age 45.
- There are many screening tests available, including some non-invasive, inexpensive tests that can be done in the privacy of your own home.
- The National Colorectal Round Table estimates that if the 80% of the eligible population was screened at the age of 50, the number of colorectal cancer-related deaths could be cut by 230,000.
- Screening has the potential to detect and even prevent colorectal cancer because polyps (precursors to cancer) can be removed during a colonoscopy screening.
- Being screened at the recommended frequency increases the likelihood that when colorectal cancer is present, it will be detected at an earlier stage.
- When colorectal cancer is detected in its early stages it is more likely to be cured, treatment is less extensive, and the recovery is much faster.
- The risk of developing or dying from colorectal cancer can be reduced by maintaining a healthy body weight, regular physical activity, limiting intake of red and processed meats, and by not smoking.
- In the past ten years, colorectal cancer screening rates have increased, but rates still remain low, especially among those who are uninsured.
- Colorectal cancer incidence rates in individuals of screening age have been declining in the US since the mid-1980s, due to increased awareness and screening.
- Colorectal cancer usually develops slowly over a period of 10 to 15 years.
- Colorectal cancer rates in the US vary widely by geographic area. Contributing factors include regional variations in risk factors and access to screening and treatment.
- Racial/ethnic groups have a higher mortality rate from colorectal cancer because they are less likely to be screened on-time, have less access to screening, and less likely to have colorectal cancer detected at its earliest stages.
- 51% of those ages 50-54 are not up to date on their colorectal cancer screening.
- Total treatment cost for colorectal cancers in the United States is about $14 billion per year.
- With on-time screening and testing, colorectal cancer is Preventable, Treatable and Beatable.
American Cancer Society: Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer
American Cancer Society Press Release: Colorectal Cancer Burden Shifting to Younger Individuals
American Cancer Society: Survival Rates for Colorectal Cancer
National Institutes of Health: Cancer Cost Projections
Next >> What are the Symptoms?
Information on these pages is provided for informational purposes only. Consult your own physician before making any medical decisions.