Bowel cancer incidence statistics

Cases

New cases of bowel cancer, 2014, UK

 

Proportion of all cases

New cases of bowel cancer, 2014, UK

 

Age

Peak rate of bowel cancer cases, 2012-2014, UK

Trend over time

Bowel cancer incidence rates have changed differently for each sex since the early 1990s, UK

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK (2014), accounting for 11% of all new cases. It is the third most common cancer in both males (12% of the male total) and females (10%) separately.[1-4]

In 2014, there were 41,265 new cases of bowel cancer in the UK: 22,844 (55%) in males and 18,421 (45%) in females, giving a male:female ratio of 12:10.[1-4] The crude incidence rate shows that there are 72 new bowel cancer cases for every 100,000 males in the UK and 56 for every 100,000 females.[1-4]

The European age-standardised incidence rates (AS rates) are significantly lower in England compared with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for males.[1-4] Rates for females are similar across all the constituent countries of the UK.[1-4]

Bowel Cancer (C18-C20), Number of New Cases, Crude and European Age-Standardised (AS) Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, UK, 2014

England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland UK
Male Cases 18,789 1,327 2,073 655 22,844
Crude Rate 70.2 87.2 79.8 72.6 71.9
AS Rate 84.5 94.5 92.9 95.3 86.1
AS Rate - 95% LCL 83.3 89.4 88.9 88.0 84.9
AS Rate - 95% UCL 85.7 99.6 96.9 102.7 87.2
Female Cases 15,236 1,008 1,667 510 18,421
Crude Rate 55.3 64.2 60.6 54.4 56.2
AS Rate 56.4 59.5 59.1 60.8 56.9
AS Rate - 95% LCL 55.5 55.9 56.3 55.6 56.1
AS Rate - 95% UCL 57.3 63.2 62.0 66.1 57.7
Persons Cases 34,025 2,335 3,740 1,165 41,265
Crude Rate 62.6 75.5 69.9 63.3 63.9
AS Rate 69.1 75.2 74.1 76.7 70.0
AS Rate - 95% LCL 68.3 72.2 71.7 72.3 69.3
AS Rate - 95% UCL 69.8 78.3 76.5 81.1 70.7

95% LCL and 95% UCL are the 95% lower and upper confidence limits around the AS Rate

For bowel cancer, like most cancer types, differences between countries largely reflect risk factor prevalence in years past.

Differences between countries reflects risk factor prevalence and coding change and differences in definitions.

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, June 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/cancerregistrationstatisticsengland/previousReleases.
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, May 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Health Intelligence Division, Public Health Wales on request, June 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, May 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/

About this data

Data is for: UK, 2014, ICD-10 C18-C20

Last reviewed:

Bowel cancer incidence is strongly related to age, with the highest incidence rates being in older males and females. In the UK in 2012-2014, on average each year more than 4 in 10 (44%) cases were diagnosed in people aged 75 and over. 

Age-specific incidence rates increase sharply from around age 50-54, with the highest rates in the 85-89 age group for both males and females. Incidence rates are significantly higher for males than females in those aged aged 45-49 and over and this gap is widest at age 60-64, when the male:female ratio of age-specific incidence rates (to account for the different proportions of males to females in each age group) is around 17:10.[1-4]

Bowel Cancer (C18-C20), Average Number of New Cases Per Year and Age-Specific Incidence Rates, UK, 2012-2014

For bowel cancer, like other cancer types with a screening programme, incidence increases rapidly at the age screening starts, as prevalent cases are identified. Incidence then tends to return to the usual pattern of gradual increase with age, which largely reflects cell DNA damage accumulating over time. Damage can result from biological processes or from exposure to risk factors. A drop or plateau in incidence in the oldest age groups often indicates reduced diagnostic activity perhaps due to general ill health.

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, June 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/cancerregistrationstatisticsengland/previousReleases.
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, May 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Health Intelligence Division, Public Health Wales on request, June 2016. Similar data can be found here: http//:www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, May 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/.

About this data

Data is for UK, 2012-2014, ICD-10 C18-C20

Last reviewed:

Bowel cancer incidence rates have increased by 4% in the UK since the early 1990s.[1-3] This includes an increase in males and stable rates in females. Bowel cancer incidence rates increased by 8% (persons) in Great Britain between 1979-1981 and 1991-1993.[1-3]

For males, European age-standardised (AS) incidence rates have increased by 3% between 1993-1995 and 2012-2014. For females, rates remained stable in this period.[1-3]

Over the last decade in the UK (between 2003-2005 and 2012-2014), bowel cancer AS incidence rates have increased by 2% for males and females combined, however this includes stable rates in males and an increase in females (4%).[1-4]

Bowel Cancer (C18-20), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, UK, 1993-2014

Bowel cancer incidence rates increased for most of the broad age groups in the UK since the early 1990s but have remained stable in people  aged 50-59 and 60-69.[1-3] The largest increase has been in people aged 25-49, with European AS incidence rates increasing by 34% between 1993-1995 and 2012-2014.[1-3]

Bowel Cancer (C18-20), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, By Age, UK, 1993-2014​

For bowel cancer, like most cancer types, incidence trends largely reflect changing prevalence of risk factors and improvements in diagnosis and data recording. Recent incidence trends are influenced by risk factor prevalence in years past, and trends by age group reflect risk factor exposure in birth cohorts. The introduction of the bowel screening programmes in the mid-2000s probably also plays a part.[5]

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, June 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/cancerregistrationstatisticsengland/previousReleases
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, May 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/ 
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Health Intelligence Division, Public Health Wales on request, June 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, May 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/
  5. Jones AM, Morris E, Thomas J, et al. Evaluation of bowel cancer registration data in England, 1996-2004. Br J Cancer 2009;101(8):1269-73.

About this data

Data is for UK, 1993-2014, ICD-10 C18-20

Last reviewed:

Overall stage at diagnosis

A high proportion (87-90%) of bowel cancer cases in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have stage at diagnosis recorded.[1-3]

More bowel cancer patients with a known stage are diagnosed at a late stage (52-56% are diagnosed at stage III or IV), than an early stage (44-48% are diagnosed at stage I or II). Around 23-26% of bowel cancer patients have metastases at diagnosis (stage IV).[1-3]

The stage distribution for each cancer type will reflect many factors including how the cancer type develops, the way symptoms appear, public awareness of symptoms, how quickly a person goes to see their doctor and how quickly the cancer is recognised and diagnosed by a doctor. It might also relate to whether a national screening programme that can detect early stage disease exists for that cancer type, along with the extent of uptake of that programme.

A cancer type associated with a large proportion of early stage diagnoses could be one that is more likely to be symptomatic at an earlier stage of development, with recognisable symptoms rather than more generic ones.

Bowel Cancer (C18-C20), Proportion of Cases Diagnosed at Each Stage, All Ages, England 2014, Scotland 2014-15, and Northern Ireland 2010-2014

Data should not be compared between countries due to differences in time periods and possible differences in recording of stage at diagnosis.

Stage at diagnosis by deprivation

Late stage at diagnosis of bowel cancer in England is associated with higher deprivation. Among adults aged 15-99 in England, 57% of those in the most deprived areas are diagnosed at stage III or IV, versus 54% of those in the least deprived areas.[4]

Stage at diagnosis by age

Late stage at diagnosis of bowel cancer in England is more common in younger adults (aged 15-59) in England (61% diagnosed at stage III or IV), compared to older adults (aged 80+) (54% diagnosed at stage III or IV) and those aged 60-79 (53% diagnosed at stage III or IV).[4]

Stage at diagnosis by sex

Late stage at diagnosis of bowel cancer is not associated with sex in England.[4]

These patterns by deprivation, age and sex are probably not explained by other demographic differences.[5]

Stage at diagnosis by ethnicity

Late stage at diagnosis for bowel cancer in England is more common in Black Caribbean patients (54% diagnosed at stage III or IV), compared to White British patients (48% diagnosed at stage III or IV) after adjusting for age, sex and deprivation.[6]

References

  1. National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service. Stage Breakdown by CCG 2014. London: NCIN; 2016.
  2. ISD Scotland, Detect Cancer Early Staging Data. Scotland: ISD; 2016.
  3. Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, Queens University Belfast, Incidence by stage 2010-2014. Belfast: NICR; 2016.
  4. National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service. Routes to diagnosis of cancer by stage 2012-2013 workbook. London: NCRAS; 2016.
  5. Lyratzopoulos G, Abel G, Brown C, et al. Socio-demographic inequalities in stage of cancer diagnosis: evidence from patients with female breast, lung, colon, rectal, prostate, renal, bladder, melanoma, ovarian and endometrial cancer. Annals of Oncology, 2012:843-50.
  6. National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service. Ethnicity and stage at diagnosis. London: NCRAS; 2016.

About this data

Data is for: England 2014, Scotland 2014-2015, Northern Ireland 2010-2014, ICD-10 C18-C20 (overall stage at diagnosis) and England, 2012-2013, ICD-10 C18-C20 (stage at diagnosis by deprivation, age, sex, and ethnicity)

Data is not comparable between countries due to differences in time periods and possible differences in how countries record stage at diagnosis.

The proportions of patients diagnosed late only include cases with a known stage at diagnosis and are not adjusted for other demographics differences (e.g. age, sex, ethnicity) unless stated otherwise.

Last reviewed:

The largest proportion of bowel cancer cases occur in the rectum, with slightly smaller proportions in the sigmoid colon and caecum, and a much smaller proportion in the ascending colon (2010-2012).[1-4]

The proportions of cases in the rectum and sigmoid colon are higher in males (31.5% and 23.1%, respectively) than females (23.1% and 20.4%, respectively). In the caecum and ascending colon, the proportions are higher in females (17.2% and 9.8%, respectively) than males (12.2% and 7.3%, respectively), and there are no marked sex differences in other parts of the bowel.[1-4]

A small proportion of cases did not have the specific part of the colon recorded in cancer registry data, or overlapped more than one part.[1-4]

Cases and percentages may not sum due to rounding

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2014. Similar data can be found here:
    http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations--england--series-mb1-/index.html.
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/index.asp.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit on request, April 2014. Similar data can be found here:
    http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080.
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, June 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/CancerInformation/.
Last reviewed:

More than 90% of bowel cancer cases are adenocarcinomas[glossary - adenocarcinomas] and the majority of these arise from adenomatous polyps (adenomas ). These common benign tumours develop from normal colonic mucosa and are present in about a third of the European and USA populations.[1]

The more difficult to detect flat adenomas account for about 10% of all lesions and may have a greater propensity to malignant change.[2,3]

Only a small proportion of polyps (1-10%) develop into invasive bowel cancer.[4] Indicators for progression from adenomas to cancer include large size, villous histology and severe dysplasia.[5]

References

  1. Midgley R, Kerr D. Colorectal cancer. Lancet 1999;353:391-399. 
  2. Hardy R, Meltzer S, Jankowski J. ABC of colorectal cancer: Molecular basis for risk factors. BMJ 2000;321:886-889.
  3. O'Brien MJ, Winawer SJ, Zauber AJ, et al. Flat adenomas in the National Polyp Study: is there increased risk for high grade dysplasia initially or during surveillance. BMJ 2000;321:886-889.
  4. Scholefield J. ABC of colorectal cancer: Screening. BMJ 2000;321:1004-1006. 
  5. Terry MB, Neugut AI, Bostick RM, et al. Risk factors for advanced colorectal adenomas: A pooled analysis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2002;11:622-629. 
Last reviewed:

Bowel cancer incidence rates are projected to fall by 11% in the UK between 2014 and 2035, to 74 cases per 100,000 people by 2035.[1] This includes a larger decrease for males than for females.

For males, bowel cancer European age-standardised (AS) incidence rates in the UK are projected to fall by 15% between 2014 and 2035, to 87 cases per 100,000 by 2035.[1] For females, rates are projected to fall by 7% between 2014 and 2035, to 63 cases per 100,000 by 2035.[1]

Bowel cancer (C18-C20), Observed and Projected Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, by Sex, UK, 1979-2035

It is projected that 53,646 cases of bowel cancer (29,356 in males, 24,290 in females) will be diagnosed in the UK in 2035.

References

  1. Smittenaar CR, Petersen KA, Stewart K, Moitt N. Cancer Incidence and Mortality Projections in the UK Until 2035. Brit J Cancer 2016.

About this data

Data is for: UK, 1979-2014 (observed), 2015-2035 (projected), ICD-10 C18-C20

Projections are based on observed incidence and mortality rates and therefore implicitly include changes in cancer risk factors, diagnosis and treatment. It is not possible to assess the statistical significance of changes between 2014 (observed) and 2035 (projected) figures. Confidence intervals are not calculated for the projected figures. Projections are by their nature uncertain because unexpected events in future could change the trend. It is not sensible to calculate a boundary of uncertainty around these already uncertain point estimates. Changes are described as 'increase' or 'decrease' if there is any difference between the point estimates.

More on projections methodology

Last reviewed:

The lifetime risk of developing bowel cancer is 1 in 14 for men and 1 in 19 for women, in 2012 in the UK.[1]

The lifetime risk for bowel cancer has been calculated to account for the possibility that someone can have more than one diagnosis of bowel  cancer over the course of their lifetime (‘Adjusted for Multiple Primaries’ (AMP) method).[2]

References

  1. Lifetime risk estimates calculated by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK. Based on data provided by the Office of National Statistics, ISD Scotland, the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit and the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, on request, December 2013 to July 2014.
  2. Sasieni PD, Shelton J, Ormiston-Smith N, et al. What is the lifetime risk of developing cancer?: The effect of adjusting for multiple primaries. Br J Cancer, 2011. 105(3): p. 460-5.
Last reviewed:

There is evidence for a small association between bowel cancer incidence and deprivation for males in England, while there is no evidence for an association for females.[1] England-wide data for 2006-2010 show European age-standardised incidence rates are 13% higher for males living in the most deprived areas compared with the least deprived, while for females the rates are similar for those living in the least and most deprived areas.[1]

Bowel Cancer (C18-C20), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates by Deprivation Quintile, England, 2006-2010

The estimated deprivation gradient in bowel cancer incidence for males and females living in the most and least deprived areas in England has not changed in the period 1996-2010. It has been estimated that there would have been around 770 fewer bowel cancer cases each year in England during 2006-2010 if all people experienced the same incidence rates as the least deprived.[1]

Last reviewed:

Age-standardised rates for White males with bowel cancer range from 54.1 to 55.3 per 100,000. Rates for Asian males are significantly lower, ranging from 19.1 to 28.0 per 100,000 and the rates for Black males are also significantly lower, ranging from 29.7 to 43.8 per 100,000. For females there is a similar pattern - the age-standardised rates for White females range from 34.0 to 34.8 per 100,000, and rates for Asian and Black females are also significantly lower ranging from 11.3 to 17.5 per 100,000 and 20.4 to 31.6 per 100,000 respectively.[1]

Ranges are given because of the analysis methodology used to account for missing and unknown data. For bowel cancer, 146,495 cases were identified; 17% had no known ethnicity.

Last reviewed:

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.[1]

Bowel Cancer (C18-C20), One, Five and Ten Year Cancer Prevalence, UK, 31st December 2006

1 Year Prevalence 5 Year Prevalence 10 Year Prevalence
Male 14,635 51,183 78,483
Female 11,415 40,594 65,075
Persons 26,050 91,777 143,558

Worldwide, it is estimated that there were around 3.26 million men and women still alive in 2008, up to five years after their diagnosis.[2]

References

  1. National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN). One, five and ten-year cancer prevalence by cancer network, UK, 2006. London: NCIN; 2010. 
  2. Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, et al. GLOBOCAN 2008 v1.2, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 10 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2010. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr. Accessed May 2011. 
Last reviewed:

Bowel cancer (C18-C21) is the second most common cancer in Europe, with around 447,000 new cases diagnosed in 2012 (13% of the total). In Europe (2012), the highest World age-standardised incidence rates for bowel cancer are in Slovakia for men and Norway for women; the lowest rates are in Albania for both men and women. UK bowel cancer incidence rates are estimated to be the 20th highest in males in Europe, and 17th highest in females.[1] These data are broadly in line with Europe-specific data available elsewhere.[2]

Bowel cancer (C18-C21) is the third most common cancer worldwide, with more than 1,360,000 new cases diagnosed in 2012 (10% of the total). Bowel cancer incidence rates are highest in Australia/New Zealand and lowest in Western Africa, but this partly reflects varying data quality worldwide.[1]

Variation between countries may reflect different prevalence of risk factors, use of screening, and diagnostic methods.

References

  1. Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, et al. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr, accessed December 2013.
  2. Ferlay J, Steliarova-Foucher E, Lortet-Tieulent J, et al.Cancer incidence and mortality patterns in Europe: Estimates for 40 countries in 2012. European Journal of Cancer (2013) 49, 1374-1403. 
Last reviewed:

Cancer stats explained

See information and explanations on terminology used for statistics and reporting of cancer, and the methods used to calculate some of our statistics.

Citation

You are welcome to reuse this Cancer Research UK statistics 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

Donate online

Rate this page:

Currently rated: 2.1 out of 5 based on 8 votes
Thank you!
We've recently made some changes to the site, tell us what you think

Share this page