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Statistics and outlook for bowel cancer

Men and women discussing bowel cancer

This page is about statistics and what they can tell us about the outlook for people with bowel cancer. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Statistics and outlook for bowel cancer

Outlook is also called prognosis and means your chances of getting better. With bowel cancer the likely outcome depends on how advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed.

Lower down this page we have quite detailed information about the likely outcome of different stages of bowel cancer. The statistics we use are taken from a variety of sources, including the opinions and experiences of the experts who check our information. The statistics are intended as a general guide only. For the more complete picture in your case, you’d have to speak to your own specialist. We include statistics because people ask for them, but not everyone wants to read this type of information.

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had, or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating bowel cancer section.

 

 

About the information on this page

This page contains quite detailed information about the survival rates of different stages of bowel cancer. We have included it because many people have asked us for this. But not everyone who is diagnosed with a cancer wants to read this type of information. If you are not sure whether you want to know at the moment or not, then perhaps you might like to skip this page for now. You can always come back to it.

 

Cancer statistics in general

We have another section explaining about cancer statistics and also about incidence, mortality and survival. Unless you are very familiar with medical statistics it might help to read this before you read the statistics below.

Remember that 5 year survival and 10 year survival are terms that doctors use. This doesn't mean you will only live 5 or 10 years. 10 year survival relates to the number of people in research studies who were still alive 10 years after diagnosis. Doctors follow what happens to people for 10 years or more after treatment in cancer research studies. This is because there is only a small chance that a cancer will come back more than 10 years after treatment. They do not like to say these people are cured because there is that small chance. So they use the term 10 year survival instead.

Please note that no national statistics are available for different stages of cancer or treatments that people may have had. The statistics we present here are pulled together from a variety of different sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts who check our information. We give statistics because people ask us for them. But they are only intended as a general guide and cannot tell you about your individual outcome.

 

Overall outlook

The overall survival statistics below are for people diagnosed with colon cancer and rectal cancer in England and Wales.

Of all those with colon cancer, around 75 out of every 100 people (75%) will survive for a year or more after they are diagnosed. Around 60 out of every 100 people (60%) survive for 5 years or more. And almost 60 out of every 100 people (60%) survive for 10 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Of all those with rectal cancer, around 80 out of every 100 people (80%) survive for a year or more after they are diagnosed.  60 out of every 100 people (60%) survive for 5 years or more. And almost 60 out of every 100 people (60%) survive for 10 years or more after diagnosis.

As with many other types of cancer, the outcome of colon or rectal cancer depends on how advanced it is when it is diagnosed. In other words, the stage of your cancer. The outlook for people with bowel cancer has improved a lot over the past 40 years.

 

Outlook by stage

This section contains information about the outlook for each stage of bowel cancer. We don't know the stage for about 34 out of every 100 people (34%) at the time they are diagnosed. 

Survival statistics are available for each stage of bowel cancer in one area of England. These figures are for people diagnosed between 2002 and 2006. 

Stage 1

Stage 1 bowel cancer is also called Dukes' A. As this is a very early stage cancer it has a high cure rate. 95 out of 100  men with stage 1 bowel cancer (95%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis. And all women with stage 1 bowel cancer (100%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis. Unfortunately, at the moment fewer than 9 out of every 100 patients (9%) diagnosed with colorectal cancer have stage 1. As bowel cancer screening has been introduced across the UK, we hope that more people will have their cancer diagnosed early.

Stage 2

Stage 2 bowel cancer is also called Dukes' B. Around 25 out of 100 (25%) of people with colorectal cancer are diagnosed at this stage. Depending on various factors, more than 80 out of 100  men with stage 2 colorectal cancer (80%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. Almost 90 out of 100 women with stage 2 colorectal cancer (90%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Stage 3

Stage 3 bowel cancer is also called Dukes' C. Almost 25 out of every 100 people with colorectal cancer (25%) are diagnosed at this stage. The outcome depends on the number of lymph nodes that contain cancer cells. Almost 66 out of 100 men and women with Stage 3 bowel cancer (66%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Stage 4

Stage 4 bowel cancer is also sometimes called Dukes' D. In around 10 out of every 100 people with colorectal cancer (10%), the cancer has already spread to another part of their body when they are diagnosed. For this advanced cancer the survival rates are lower. Only about 7 men out of every 100 (7%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. And around 8 out of every 100 (8%) women with stage 4 colorectal cancer will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis. But if the cancer has spread into the liver and the areas in the liver can be removed with surgery, some recent studies have shown that 25 to 40 out of 100 (25 to 40%) people will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

 

How reliable are these statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. So statistics can only give a rough idea of what may happen to you. The available statistics are not detailed enough to tell you about the different treatments people may have had. They also can't tell how that treatment may have affected their outlook. Some treatments may help people to live longer as well as relieving symptoms. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and prognosis.

 

Clinical trials

Taking part in clinical trials can help to improve the outlook for people in the future. If you are interested in taking part in a clinical trial, talk to your cancer specialist. We have information about clinical trials in the trials and research section. And you can search for UK trials for bowel cancer on our trials database.

Bowel cancer survival rate impact statement

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Updated: 30 April 2014