Survival statistics for bowel cancer | Cancer Research UK
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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 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.

 

 

Bowel cancer survival

Find out about bowel cancer survival.

People ask us for this information but not everyone with cancer wants to read it. If you are not sure whether you want to know at the moment, you can always come back to it later.

These are general statistics based on large groups of patients. They can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.

No one can tell you exactly how long you’ll live with bowel cancer. It depends on your individual situation and treatment. No two patients are exactly alike and response to treatment also varies from one person to another.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis). Or you can talk to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.

 

Survival by stage

There are no UK-wide statistics available for bowel cancer survival by stage.

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

95 out of 100 men (95%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.
Around all women (around 100%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Stage 1 bowel cancer is also called Dukes' A. 

Stage 2

More than 80 out of 100 men (more than 80%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. 
Almost 90 out of 100 women (almost 90%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Stage 2 bowel cancer is also called Dukes' B.

Stage 3

Almost 65 out of 100 men and women (almost 65%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Stage 3 bowel cancer is also called Dukes' C. 

Stage 4

More than 5 out of every 100 men (more than 5%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. 
Almost 10 out of every 100 women (almost 10%)  will survive their cancer 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 people (25 to 40%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Stage 4 bowel cancer is also sometimes called Dukes' D.

Read more about the stages of bowel cancer.

 

Survival for all stages of bowel cancer

Generally for people with bowel cancer in England and Wales

  • around 75 out of every 100 people (around 75%) will survive their cancer for 1 year or more after they are diagnosed
  • around 60 out of every 100 people (around 60%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis
  • almost 60 out of every 100 people (almost 60%) survive their cancer for 10 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Generally, for people with rectal cancer in England and Wales

  • around 80 out of every 100 people (around 80%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more after they are diagnosed
  • 60 out of every 100 people (60%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more
  • almost 60 out of every 100 people (almost 60%) survive their cancer for 10 years or more after diagnosis
 

What affects survival

Your outcome depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big and deep it has grown, and whether it has spread.

The grade of the cancer may also affect your likely survival. Grade means how abnormal the cells look under the microscope. 

Some bowel cancers make a protein called CEA that can be found in the blood. CEA stands for carcinoembryonic antigen. People with high CEA levels before treatment may have a worse outlook. 

Cancer can cause a blockage in the bowel. This is called bowel obstruction. There is a small risk of developing a hole in the wall of the bowel, which is called perforation. People with bowel cancer who have bowel obstruction or perforation have a worse outlook.  

 

About these statistics

The term 5 year survival doesn't mean you will only live for 5 years. It relates to the number of people who live 5 years or more after their diagnosis of cancer. Many people live much longer than 5 years.

The statistics on this page are for relative survival. Relative survival takes into account that some people will die of causes other than cancer. This gives a more accurate picture of cancer survival.

 

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

 

More statistics

Read more about understanding statistics in cancer research and incidence, mortality and survival statistics.

For more in-depth information about survival and other statistics for bowel cancer, go to our Cancer Statistics section.

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Updated: 26 August 2015