Want the key stats in the sections on this page as a document? or looking for a stats report of the in-depth stats? Use the print function at the bottom of any Cancer Stats page Share this page > Print or your browser options to print or save.
Bowel cancer statistics
New cases of bowel cancer, 2015, UK
Deaths from bowel cancer, 2014, UK
Survive bowel cancer for 10 or more years, 2010-11, England and Wales
Preventable cases of bowel cancer, UK
- There are around 41,700 new bowel cancer cases in the UK every year, that's more than 110 every day (2013-2015).
- Bowel cancer is the 4th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 12% of all new cancer cases (2015).
- In males in the UK, bowel cancer is the 3rd most common cancer, with around 23,100 new cases in 2015.
- In females in the UK, bowel cancer is the 3rd most common cancer, with around 18,700 new cases in 2015.
- Incidence rates for bowel cancer in the UK are highest in people aged 85 to 89 (2013-2015).
- Since the early 1990s, bowel cancer incidence rates have increased by less than a twentieth (1%) in the UK, however rates in males and females have each remained stable when calculated separately.
- Over the last decade, bowel cancer incidence rates have remained stable in the UK. Rates in males have decreased by around a twentieth (4%), and rates in females have increased by less than a twentieth (2%).
- Over half of bowel cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage in England (2014), Scotland (2014-2015), and Northern Ireland (2010-2014).
- Most bowel cancers occur in the rectum.
- Incidence rates for bowel cancer are projected to fall by 11% in the UK between 2014 and 2035, to 74 cases per 100,000 people by 2035.
- 1 in 14 men and 1 in 19 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer during their lifetime.
- Bowel cancer in England is more common in males living in the most deprived areas. There is no association for females.
- Bowel cancer is more common in White people than in Asian or Black people.
- An estimated 230,200 people who had previously been diagnosed with bowel cancer were alive in the UK at the end of 2010.
- In Europe, around 477,000 new cases of bowel cancer were estimated to have been diagnosed in 2012. The UK incidence rate is 20th highest in Europe for males and 17th highest for females.
- Worldwide, an estimated 1.36 million new cases of bowel cancer were diagnosed in 2012, with incidence rates varying across the world.
- There were around 15,900 bowel cancer deaths in the UK in 2014, that’s 44 deaths every day.
- Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK (2014).
- Bowel cancer accounts for 10% of all cancer deaths in the UK (2014).
- In males in the UK, bowel cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death, with around 8,600 deaths in 2014.
- In females in the UK, bowel cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death, with around 7,300 deaths in 2014.
- More than 4 in 10 (43%) bowel cancer deaths in the UK each year are in people aged 80 and over (2012-2014).
- Mortality rates for bowel cancer in the UK are highest in people aged 90+ (2012-2014).
- Since the early 1970s, bowel cancer mortality rates have decreased by more than two-fifths (42%) in the UK. The decrease is larger in females (49%), than in males (38%).
- Over the last decade, bowel cancer mortality rates have decreased by more than a tenth (12%) in the UK, with a similar decrease in males (15%) and females (11%).
- Mortality rates for bowel cancer are projected to fall by 23% in the UK between 2014 and 2035, to 25 deaths per 100,000 people by 2035.
- Bowel cancer deaths in England are more common in people living in the most deprived areas.
- In Europe around 215,000 people were estimated to have died from bowel cancer in 2012. The UK mortality rate is 10th lowest in Europe for males and 14th lowest for females.
- Worldwide, around 694,000 people were estimated to have died from bowel cancer in 2012, with mortality rates varying across the world.
- Almost 6 in 10 (57%) people diagnosed with bowel cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for ten years or more (2010-11).
- Around 6 in 10 (59%) people diagnosed with bowel cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for five years or more (2010-11).
- Around three-quarters (76%) of people diagnosed with bowel cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for one year or more (2010-11).
- Bowel cancer survival is higher in men than women.
- Bowel cancer survival in England is higher for people diagnosed aged 15-39 and those diagnosed aged 60-69, compared with other age groups. For those aged 60-69, the higher survival is probably because of screening (2009-2013).
- 7 in 10 people in England diagnosed with bowel cancer aged 15-39 survive their disease for five years or more, compared with more than 4 in 10 people diagnosed aged 80 and over (2009-2013).
- Bowel cancer survival is improving and has more than doubled in the last 40 years in the UK.
- In the 1970s, more than a fifth of people diagnosed with bowel cancer survived their disease beyond ten years, now it's almost 6 in 10.
- When diagnosed at its earliest stage, more than 9 in 10 people with bowel cancer will survive their disease for five years or more, compared with less than 1 in 10 people when diagnosed at the latest stage.
- Five-year relative survival for colon cancer in men is below the European average in England, Wales and Scotland but similar to the European average in Northern Ireland.
- Five-year relative survival for colon cancer in women is below the European average in England, Wales and Scotland but similar to the European average in Northern Ireland.
- Five-year relative survival for rectal cancer in men is below the European average in England and Wales but similar to the European average in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- Five-year relative survival for rectal cancer in women is below the European average in England but similar to the European average in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- A person’s risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).
- 54% of bowel cancer cases each year in the UK are linked to major lifestyle and other risk factors.
- An estimated 54% of bowel cancers in the UK are linked to lifestyle factors including red and processed meat consumption (21%), overweight and obesity (13%), alcohol (12%), smoking (8%) and ionising radiation (2%).
- Fibre consumption and physical activity protect against bowel cancer (inadequate levels are linked to an estimated 12% and 3% respectively of bowel cancer cases in the UK).
- Asbestos exposure, other dietary intakes, and certain medical conditions and infections may relate to higher bowel cancer risk.
- 'Two-week wait' is the most common route to diagnosing bowel cancer.
- Screening is the route with the highest proportion of cases diagnosed at an early stage, for bowel cancer.
- ‘Two-week wait’ standard is met by England, ‘31-day wait’ is met by all countries but Wales, and ‘62-day wait’ is not met by any country for lower gastrointestinal cancers.
- 66% of patients diagnosed with colon cancer and 63% of patients diagnosed with rectal cancer have surgery to remove the tumour as part of their primary cancer treatment.
- 3% of patients diagnosed with colon cancer and 41% of patients diagnosed with rectal cancer have radiotherapy as part of their primary cancer treatment.
- 31% of patients diagnosed with colon cancer and 42% of patients diagnosed with rectal cancer have chemotherapy as part of their primary cancer treatment.
- Around half (50-58%) of people in the UK who are invited for bowel cancer screening are screened with a definitive usable result within 6 months of invitation.
- Bowel cancer screening uptake within 6 months of invitation has fluctuated in England, increased steadily in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and overall decreased in Wales.
- 2-3% of people who have bowel cancer screening in the UK have a definitive positive (abnormal) result, in any given screening round.
- Bowel cancer is found in 12-15% of men and 8% of women who have colonoscopy or other investigation following an abnormal bowel cancer screening result in England and Scotland.
The latest statistics available for bowel cancer in the UK are; incidence 2015, mortality 2014 and survival 2010-2011 (all ages combined) and 2009-2013 (by age).
The ICD code for bowel cancer survival are ICD-10 C18-C20 and C21.8. The ICD code for colon cancer is ICD-10 C18. The ICD codes for rectal cancer are ICD-10 C19-C20 and C21.8.
Bowel cancer is sometimes called colorectal cancer and some data include anal cancer.
European Age-Standardised Rates were calculated using the 1976 European Standard Population (ESP) unless otherwise stated as calculated with ESP2013. ASRs calculated with ESP2013 are not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.
Lifetime risk estimates were calculated using incidence, mortality, population and all-cause mortality data for 2012.
Survival statistics give an overall picture of survival and (unless otherwise stated) include all adults (15-99) diagnosed, at all ages,
Routes to diagnosis statistics were calculated from cases of cancer registered in England which were diagnosed in 2012-2013. Staging proportions only include patients with a known stage (cases with an unknown stage at diagnosis are not included in the denominator).
Cancer waiting times statistics are for patients who entered the health care system within financial year 2014-15. Bowel cancer is part of the group 'Lower Gastrointestinal cancer' for cancer waiting times data. Codes vary per country but broadly include: small intestine, colon, rectosigmoid junction, rectum, anus and anal canal, other and ill-defined digestive organs, secondary cancers of small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and unspecified digestive organs.
Cancer surgical resection rates data is for patients diagnosed in England between 2006 and 2010.
Patient Experience data is for adult patients in England with a primary diagnosis of cancer, who were in active treatment between September and November 2013 and who completed a survey in 2014.
The latest statistics available for bowel cancer screening in the UK are; England financial year (FY) 20114/15 coverage and FY2015/16 uptake (we present FY2014/15 uptake for better comparability with other UK nations), Wales FY2013/14 coverage and uptake, Scotland 1 Nov 2012 - 31 Oct 2014 uptake, and Northern Ireland FY2012/13 uptake. The age groups, data years and definitions of ‘screened’ vary between the UK constituent nations, see references for details.
Deprivation gradient statistics were calculated using incidence data for three time periods: 1996-2000, 2001-2005 and 2006-2010 and for mortality for two time periods: 2002-2006 and 2007-2011. The 1997-2001 mortality data were only used for the all cancers combined group as this time period includes the change in coding from ICD-9 to ICD-10. The deprivation quintiles were calculated using the Income domain scores from the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) from the following years: 2004, 2007 and 2010. Full details on the data and methodology can be found in the Cancer by Deprivation in England NCIN report.
You are welcome to reuse this Cancer Research UK content for your own work.
Credit us as authors by referencing Cancer Research UK as the primary source. Suggested styles are:
Web content: Cancer Research UK, full URL of the page, Accessed [month] [year].
Publications: Cancer Research UK ([year of publication]), Name of publication, Cancer Research UK.
Graphics (when reused unaltered): Credit: Cancer Research UK.
Graphics (when recreated with differences): Based on a graphic created by Cancer Research UK.
When Cancer Research UK material is used for commercial reasons, we encourage a donation to our life-saving research.
Send a cheque payable to Cancer Research UK to: Cancer Research UK, Angel Building, 407 St John Street, London, EC1V 4AD or
We are grateful to the many organisations across the UK which collect, analyse, and share the data which we use, and to the patients and public who consent for their data to be used. Find out more about the sources which are essential for our statistics.