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Bowel cancer survival statistics

One-, five- and ten-year survival statistics for bowel cancer by age and trends over time are presented here. There are also data by stage at diagnosis, geography and by socio-economic group.

Find out more about the counting and coding of this data.

 

One-, five- and ten-year survival

77% of men survive bowel cancer for at least one year, and this is predicted to fall to 59% surviving for five years or more, as shown by age-standardised net survival for patients diagnosed with bowel cancer during 2010-2011 in England and Wales (Table 3.1).1 Survival for women at one and five years is slightly lower, with 74% surviving for one year or more, and 58% predicted to survive for at least five years.

Table 3.1: Bowel Cancer (C18-C20 and C21.8), Age-Standardised One-, Five- and Ten-Year Net Survival, Adults (Aged 15-99), England and Wales, 2010-2011

1-Year Survival (%) 5-Year Survival (%) 10-Year Survival (%)
Men Net Survival 77.4 59.2 56.0
95% LCL 77.4 59.2 55.9
95% UCL 77.4 59.4 56.2
Women Net Survival 73.9 58.2 57.2
95% LCL 73.9 58.0 57.0
95% UCL 73.9 58.3 57.4
Adults Net Survival 75.7 58.7 56.6
95% LCL 75.7 58.6 56.4
95% UCL 75.7 58.8 56.7

Download this table XLS (32KB) PPT (138KB) PDF (26KB)

95% LCL and 95% UCL are the 95% lower and upper confidence limits
Survival is a weighted average derived from data for colon (C18) and rectum cancer (C19-C20, C21.8)
Five- and ten-year survival is predicted using an excess hazard statistical model

Bowel cancer survival falls only slightly beyond five years after diagnosis, which means most patients can be considered cured after five years. 56% of men and 57% of women are predicted to survive their disease for ten years or more, as shown by age-standardised net survival for patients diagnosed with bowel cancer during 2010-2011 in England and Wales (Figure 3.1).1 Out of 20 common cancers in England and Wales, ten-year survival for bowel cancer ranks 10th highest overall.

Figure 3.1: Bowel Cancer (C18-C20 and C21.8), Net Survival up to Ten Years after Diagnosis, Adults (Aged 15-99), England and Wales, 2010-2011

surv_curve_bowel.swf

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Survival is a weighted average derived from data for colon (C18) and rectum cancer (C19-C20, C21.8)

Survival for bowel cancer is reported in Scotland and Northern Ireland,2,3 though it is difficult to make survival comparisons between countries due to different methodologies and criteria for including patients in analyses.

section reviewed 01/12/14
section updated 01/12/14

 

By age

Five-year survival for bowel cancer shows an unusual pattern with age: survival is highest at age 60-69, with people in the younger age groups between 40 and 59 having slightly lower survival; survival then decreases from age 70, reaching its lowest point at age 80-99. Five-year net survival in men ranges from 65% in 60-69 year-olds to 43% in 80-99 year-olds for patients diagnosed with bowel cancer in England during 2007-2011 (Figure 3.2).4 In women, five-year survival ranges from 66% to 43% in the same age groups. The slightly higher survival in 60-69 year-olds is likely to be associated with bowel cancer screening in this age group.

Figure 3.2: Bowel Cancer (C18-C20 and C21.8), Five-Year Net Survival by Age, England, 2007-2011

surv_5yr_age_bowel.swf

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section reviewed 01/12/14
section updated 01/12/14

 

Trends over time

As with most cancers, survival for bowel cancer is improving. One-year age-standardised net survival for bowel cancer in men has increased from 47% during 1971-1972 to 77% during 2010-2011 in England and Wales – an absolute survival difference of 30 percentage points (Figure 3.3).1 In women, one-year survival has increased from 45% to 74% over the same time period (a difference of 29 percentage points).

Figure 3.3: Bowel Cancer (C18-C20 and C21.8), Age-Standardised One-Year Net Survival, Adults (Aged 15-99), England and Wales, 1971-2011

surv_1yr_bowel.swf

Download this chart XLS (46KB) PPT (127KB) PDF (54KB)

Survival is a weighted average derived from data for colon (C18) and rectum cancer (C19-C20, C21.8)

Five-year age-standardised net survival for bowel cancer in men has increased from 25% during 1971-1972 to a predicted survival of 59% during 2010-2011 in England and Wales – an absolute survival difference of 35 percentage points (Figure 3.4).1 In women, five-year survival has increased from 24% to 58% over the same time period (a difference of 34 percentage points).

Figure 3.4: Bowel Cancer (C18-C20 and C21.8), Age-Standardised Five-Year Net Survival, Adults (Aged 15-99), England and Wales, 1971-2011

surv_5yr_bowel.swf

Download this chart XLS (46KB) PPT (127KB) PDF (54KB)

Survival is a weighted average derived from data for colon (C18) and rectum cancer (C19-C20, C21.8)
Five-year survival for 2010-2011 is predicted using an excess hazard statistical model

Ten-year survival has followed the same trend as one- and five-year survival since the early 1970s. Ten-year age-standardised net survival for bowel cancer in men has increased from 22% during 1971-1972 to a predicted survival of 56% during 2010-2011 in England and Wales – an absolute survival difference of 35 percentage points (Figure 3.5).1 In women, ten-year survival has increased from 22% to 57% over the same time period (a difference of 35 percentage points). Overall, nearly 6 in 10 people diagnosed with bowel cancer today are predicted to survive their disease for at least ten years.

Figure 3.5: Bowel Cancer (C18-C20 and C21.8), Age-Standardised Ten-Year Net Survival, Adults (Aged 15-99), England and Wales, 1971-2011

surv_10yr_bowel.swf

Download this chart XLS (46KB) PPT (127KB) PDF (54KB)

Survival is a weighted average derived from data for colon (C18) and rectum cancer (C19-C20, C21.8)
Ten-year survival for 2005-2006 and 2010-2011 is predicted using an excess hazard statistical model

section reviewed 01/12/14
section updated 01/12/14

 

By stage at diagnosis

Survival for bowel cancer is related to stage of the disease at diagnosis. More than half of patients are diagnosed at Stages II or III.

One-year relative survival for bowel cancer is highest for patients presenting at Stage I, with 98% of men and 100% of women surviving their disease for at least one year for patients diagnosed during 2006-2010 in the former Anglia Cancer Network (Figure 3.6).5 One-year survival is lowest for those diagnosed with Stage IV disease (40% for men and 33% for women).

For patients diagnosed at Stage IV, one-year relative survival is significantly higher for men than for women, with an absolute survival difference of 7 percentage points. One-year survival is not significantly different between men and women at any of the other stages.

Figure 3.6 Bowel Cancer (C18-C20), One-Year Relative Survival by Stage, Adults (Aged 15-99 Years), Former Anglia Cancer Network, 2006-2010

surv_1yr_stage_mw_bowel.swf

Download this chart XLS (46KB) PPT (128KB) PDF (50KB)

Relative survival can be greater than 100% because it accounts for background mortality. A relative survival figure greater than 100 indicates that people diagnosed have a better chance of surviving one or five years after diagnosis than the general population.

Five-year survival for bowel cancer shows a much more rapid decrease in survival between Stages I and IV. In men, five-year relative survival ranges from 95% at Stage I to 7% at Stage IV for patients diagnosed during 2002-2006 in the former Anglia Cancer Network (Figure 3.7).5 In women, five-year survival ranges from 100% at Stage I to 8% at Stage IV. There are no significant differences in five-year survival between men and women at any of the stages.
 

Figure 3.7 Bowel Cancer (C18-C20), Five-Year Relative Survival by Stage, Adults (Aged 15-99 Years), Former Anglia Cancer Network, 2002-2006

surv_5yr_stage_mw_bowel.swf

Download this chart XLS (45KB) PPT (127KB) PDF (51KB)

Relative survival can be greater than 100% because it accounts for background mortality. A relative survival figure greater than 100 indicates that people diagnosed have a better chance of surviving one or five years after diagnosis than the general population.

section reviewed 01/12/14
section updated 01/12/14

 

In Europe

Comparison of both colon and rectal cancer survival figures across Europe shows significant inter-country differences.6 It has been suggested that the poorer survival in the UK compared with the rest of western Europe relates to late presentation or delay in treatment,7 but caution needs to be exercised in interpreting these variations.8 However, the existence of differences in survival over time and place suggest that there are ways in which the prognosis could be improved in countries such as the UK.

section reviewed 22/06/12
section updated 22/06/12

 

Socio-economic group

There is also an advantage of between 5% and 9% in five-year relative survival for the most affluent patients compared with the most deprived groups.9

section reviewed 22/06/12
section updated 22/06/12

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References for bowel cancer survival

  1. Cancer Research UK Cancer Survival Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Personal communication, 2014.
  2. ISD Scotland. Trends in Cancer Survival 1983-2007.
  3. Northern Ireland Cancer Registry. Incidence & Survival 1993-2012.
  4. Office for National Statistics. Statistical Bulletin: Cancer survival in England: Patients diagnosed 2007-2011 and followed up to 2012. Newport: ONS; 2013.
  5. The National Cancer Registration Service, Eastern Office. Personal communication.
  6. Sant M, Allemani C, Santaquilani M, et al. EUROCARE-4. Survival of cancer patients diagnosed in 1995-1999. Results and commentary. Eur J Cancer 2009;45:931-91.
  7. Gatta G, Capocaccia R, Sant M, et al. Understanding variations in survival for colorectal cancer in Europe: a EUROCARE high-resolution study. Gut 2000; 47:533–538.
  8. Woodman CB, Gibbs A, Scott N, et al. Are differences in stage at presentation a credible explanation for reported differences in the survival of patients with colorectal cancer in Europe? Br J Cancer 2001; 85(6):787-790.
  9. Coleman MP, Rachet B, Woods LM, et al. Trends in socioeconomic inequalities in cancer survival in England and Wales up to 2001. Br J Cancer 2004;90(7):1367-73.
Updated: 1 December 2014