Bowel cancer statistics

Cases

New cases of bowel cancer each year, 2016-2018 average, UK.

Deaths

Deaths from bowel cancer, 2017-2019, UK.

Survival

Survive bowel cancer for 10 or more years, 2013-2017, England

Prevention

Preventable cases of bowel cancer, UK

  • There are around 42,900 new bowel cancer cases in the UK every year, that's nearly 120 every day (2016-2018).
  • Bowel cancer is the 4th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 11% of all new cancer cases (2016-2018).
  • In females in the UK, bowel cancer is the 3rd most common cancer, with around 19,000 new cases every year (2016-2018).
  • In males in the UK, bowel cancer is the 3rd most common cancer, with around 23,900 new cases every year (2016-2018).
  • Incidence rates for bowel cancer in the UK are highest in people aged 85 to 89 (2016-2018).
  • Each year more than 4 in 10 (43%) of all new bowel cancer cases in the UK are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over (2016-2018).
  • Since the early 1990s, bowel cancer incidence rates have remained stable in the UK. Rates in females have decreased by less than a twentieth (2%), and rates in males have decreased by less than a twentieth (3%) (2016-2018).
  • Over the last decade, bowel cancer incidence rates have decreased by around a twentieth (6%) in the UK. Rates in females have decreased by around a twentieth (4%), and rates in males have decreased by around a tenth (9%) (2016-2018).
  • See our new Early Diagnosis Data Hub for statistics on stage at diagnosis for bowel cancer.
  • The most common specific location for bowel cancers in the UK is the rectum (2016-2018).
  • Bowel cancer incidence rates are projected to fall by 8% in the UK between 2023-2025 and 2038-2040.
  • There could be around 47,700 new cases of bowel cancer every year in the UK by 2038-2040, projections suggest.
  • Bowel cancer incidence rates in England in females are similar in the most deprived quintile compared with the least, and in males are 9% higher in the most deprived quintile compared with the least (2013-2017).
  • Around 630 cases of bowel cancer each year in males in England are linked with deprivation.
  • Incidence rates for bowel cancer are lower in the Asian and Black ethnic groups, and in people of mixed or multiple ethnicity, compared with the White ethnic group, in England (2013-2017). See our publication Cancer Incidence by Broad Ethnic Group for more details.
  • An estimated 230,200 people who had previously been diagnosed with bowel cancer were alive in the UK at the end of 2010.

See more in-depth bowel cancer incidence statistics

  • There are around 16,800 bowel cancer deaths in the UK every year, that's 46 every day (2017-2019).
  • Bowel cancer is the 2nd most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for 10% of all cancer deaths (2017-2019).
  • In females in the UK, bowel cancer is the 3rd most common cause of cancer death, with around 7,600 deaths every year (2017-2019).
  • In males in the UK, bowel cancer is the 3rd most common cause of cancer death, with around 9,200 deaths every year (2017-2019).
  • Mortality rates for bowel cancer in the UK are highest in people aged 90+ (2017-2019).
  • Each year almost 6 in 10 of all bowel cancer deaths (58%) in the UK are in people aged 75 and over (2017-2019).
  • Since the early 1970s, bowel cancer mortality rates have decreased by almost half (45%) in the UK. Rates in females have decreased by half (50%), and rates in males have decreased by around two-fifths (41%) (2017-2019).
  • Over the last decade, bowel cancer mortality rates have decreased by around a tenth (11%) in the UK. Rates in females have decreased by around a tenth (9%), and rates in males have decreased by around a seventh (13%) (2017-2019).
  • Mortality rates for bowel cancer and anal cancer combined are generally lower in people of non-White minority ethnicity, compared with the White ethnic group, in England and Wales (2017-2019). See the publication Mortality from leading causes of death by ethnic group, England and Wales.
  • Bowel cancer mortality rates are projected to fall by 10% in the UK between 2023-2025 and 2038-2040.
  • There could be around around 19,100 deaths of bowel cancer every year in the UK by 2038-2040, projections suggest.
  • Bowel cancer deaths in England are more common in people living in the most deprived areas.

See more in-depth bowel cancer mortality statistics

  • More than 1 in 2 (52.9%) people diagnosed with bowel cancer in England survive their disease for ten years or more, it is predicted (2013-2017).
  • Bowel cancer ten-year survival in England is similar in females and males (2013-2017).
  • Almost two-thirds (63.0%) of people in England diagnosed with bowel cancer aged 15-44 survive their disease for ten years or more, compared with around 4 in 10 (39.4%) people diagnosed aged 75-99 (2013-2017).
  • Bowel cancer survival has more than doubled in the last 50 years in the UK.
  • In the 1970s, more than a fifth (21.8%) of people diagnosed with bowel cancer survived their disease beyond ten years, by the 2010s it was almost 6 in 10 (56.6%).
  • More than 6 in 10 (61.5%) people in England diagnosed with bowel cancer in the least deprived group survive their disease for five years or more, compared with more than half (52.6%) of people in the most deprived group (2016-2020).
  • Five-year relative survival for colon cancer 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 is generally similar to the European average in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland but below the European average in England. Further details on cancer survival in Europe can be found on the EUROCARE website.
  • For bowel cancer, like other cancer sites, survival trends reflect a combination of changes in treatment and stage distribution. These factors themselves can vary by age, sex and deprivation.
  • Further survival statistics by stage can be found on the Early Diagnosis Data Hub and information on treatments for cancer can be found here.
  • 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).
  • 1 in 15 UK males and 1 in 18 UK females will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in their lifetime.
  • 54% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are preventable.
  • 13% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are caused by eating processed meat.
  • 11% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are caused by overweight and obesity.
  • 6% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are caused by alcohol drinking.
  • 7% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are caused by smoking.
  • 2% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are caused by ionising radiation.
  • 5% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are caused by too little physical activity.
  • 28% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are caused by eating too little fibre.

See more in-depth bowel cancer risk statistics

  • ‘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 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.

See more in-depth bowel cancer treatment statistics

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Acknowledgements

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.