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Survival

Bowel cancer is cancer that starts in the large bowel (colon cancer) or back passage (rectal cancer). It is also known as colorectal cancer. 

Survival depends on many different factors. It depends on your individual condition, type of cancer, treatment and level of fitness. So no one can tell you exactly how long you will live. 

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

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis).

You can also talk about this with the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, 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. They are for colon and rectal cancer combined.

Stage 1

95 out of 100 men (95%) with stage 1 bowel cancer (also called Dukes' A) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they're diagnosed. 

Around all women (100%) with stage 1 bowel cancer (also called Dukes' A) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they're diagnosed. 

Stage 2

More than 80 out of 100 men (more than 80%) with stage 2 bowel cancer (also called Dukes' B) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they're diagnosed. 

Almost 90 out of 100 women (almost 90%) with stage 2 bowel cancer (also called Dukes' B) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they're diagnosed. 

Stage 3

Almost 65 out of 100 men and women (almost 65%) with stage 3 bowel cancer (also called Dukes' C) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they're diagnosed. 

Stage 4

More than 5 out of 100 men (more than 5%) with stage 4 bowel cancer (also called Dukes' D) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they're diagnosed. 

Almost 10 out of 100 women (almost 10%) with stage 4 bowel cancer (also called Dukes' D) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they're diagnosed. 

If the cancer has spread into the liver and it can be removed with surgery, around 25 to 40 people (25 to 40%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they're diagnosed. 

These statistics are provided by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK.

They 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. 

You can read more about these statistics in the Cancer Statistics section.  

Survival for all stages of bowel cancer

Bowel cancer 

Generally for people with bowel cancer in England and Wales:

  • around 75 out of 100 people (around 75%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more
  • around 60 out of 100 people (around 60%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more
  • almost 60 out of 100 people (almost 60%) survive their cancer for 10 years or more

Rectal cancer 

Generally for people with rectal cancer in England and Wales: 

  • around 80 out of 100 people (around 80%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more
  • 60 out of 100 people (around 60%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more
  • almost 60 out of 100 people (almost 60%) survive their cancer for 10 years or more

These statistics are provided by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK.  The statistics are for adults diagnosed with bowel cancer between 2010-2011 in England and Wales.

They 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. 

You can read more about these statistics in the Cancer Statistics section.  

What affects survival

Your outlook depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread.

The type of cancer and grade of the cancer cells can also affect your survival. Grade means how abnormal the cells look under the microscope.

Your general health and fitness also affect survival, the fitter you are, the better you may be able to cope with your cancer and treatment.

Some bowel cancers make a protein called carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). People wth high CEA levels before treatment may have a worse outlook. 

Bowel cancer can sometimes cause a blockage in the bowel (bowel obstruction). If this happens, you have a small risk of developing a hole in the wall of the bowel. This is called perforation. People with bowel cancer who have an obstruction or perforation of the bowel have a worse outlook.  

About these statistics

The terms 1 year survival and 5 year survival don't mean that you will only live for 1 or 5 years. They relate to the number of people who are still alive 1 year or 5 years after their diagnosis of cancer.

Some people live much longer than 5 years.

More statistics

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

Information and help

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