Bowel cancer statistics

Cases

New cases of bowel cancer, 2014, UK

Deaths

Deaths from bowel cancer, 2014, UK

Survival

Survive bowel cancer for 10 or more years, 2010-11, England and Wales

Prevention

Preventable cases of bowel cancer, UK

  • There were around 41,300 new cases of bowel cancer in the UK in 2014, that’s 110 cases diagnosed every day.
  • Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK (2014).
  • Bowel cancer accounts for 12% of all new cases in the UK (2014).
  • In males in the UK, bowel cancer is the third most common cancer, with around 22,800 cases diagnosed in 2014.
  • In females in the UK, bowel cancer is the third most common cancer, with around 18,400 cases diagnosed in 2014.
  • More than 4 in 10 (44%) bowel cancer cases in the UK each year are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over (2012-2014).
  • Incidence rates for bowel cancer in the UK are highest in people aged 85-89 (2012-2014).
  • Since the late 1970s, bowel cancer incidence rates have increased by 14% in Great Britain. The increase is larger in males where rates have increased by around a fifth (19%), than in females where rates have increased by less than a tenth (3%).
  • Over the last decade, bowel cancer incidence rates have increased by a twentieth (5%) in the UK. The increase is larger in females where rates have increased by 6%, than in males where rates have increased by 3%.
  • Most bowel cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage.
  • 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.
  • In the UK more than 143,000 people were still alive at the end of 2006, up to ten years after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.
  • 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.

See more in-depth bowel cancer incidence statistics

  • 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.

See more in-depth bowel cancer mortality statistics

  • 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.

See more in-depth bowel cancer survival statistics

  • 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.

See more in-depth bowel cancer risk factors

  • '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.
  • More than 6 in 10 bowel cancer patients receive major surgical resection as part of their cancer treatment.
  • Around 9 in 10 patients had a ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ patient experience.
  • Almost 9 in 10 patients are given the name of their Clinical Nurse Specialist.
  • 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.

See more in-depth bowel cancer diagnosis and treatment statistics

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The latest statistics available for bowel cancer in the UK are; incidence 2014, mortality 2014 and survival 2010-2011 (all ages combined) and 2009-2013 (by age).

The ICD code Open a glossary item for bowel cancer incidence and mortality are ICD-10 C18-C20 (which includes cancers of the colon, rectum and rectosigmoid junction).

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, stages Open a glossary item and co-morbidities Open a glossary item. The survival time experienced by an individual patient may be much higher or lower, depending on specific patient and tumour characteristics. 

Meta-analyses Open a glossary item and systematic reviews Open a glossary item are cited where available, as they provide the best overview of all available research and most take study quality into account. Individual case-control and cohort Open a glossary item studies are reported where such aggregated data are lacking.

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.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the essential work of the cancer registries in the United Kingdom and Ireland Association of Cancer Registries, without which there would be no data.

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