Bowel cancer statistics

Cases

New cases of bowel cancer, 2014-2016 average, UK

Deaths

Deaths from bowel cancer, 2016, UK

Survival

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

Prevention

Preventable cases of bowel cancer, UK

  • There are around 42,000 new bowel cancer cases in the UK every year, that's more than 110 every day (2014-2016).
  • Bowel cancer is the 4th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 12% of all new cancer cases (2016).
  • In females in the UK, bowel cancer is the 3rd most common cancer, with around 18,600 new cases in 2016.
  • In males in the UK, bowel cancer is the 3rd most common cancer, with around 23,500 new cases in 2016.
  • Incidence rates for bowel cancer in the UK are highest in people aged 85 to 89 (2014-2016).
  • Since the early 1990s, bowel cancer incidence rates have remained stable in the UK. Rates in females have remained stable and rates in males have remained stable.
  • Over the last decade, bowel cancer incidence rates have decreased by less than a twentieth (2%) in the UK. Rates in females have remained stable, and rates in males have decreased by a twentieth (5%).
  • 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.
  • 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.

See more in-depth bowel cancer incidence statistics

  • There are around 16,000 bowel cancer deaths in the UK every year, that's 44 every day (2014-2016).
  • Bowel cancer is the 2nd most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for 10% of all cancer deaths (2016).
  • In males in the UK, bowel cancer is the 3rd most common cause of cancer death, with around 8,900 deaths in 2016.
  • In females in the UK, bowel cancer is the 3rd most common cause of cancer death, with around 7,500 deaths in 2016.
  • Mortality rates for bowel cancer in the UK are highest in people aged 90+ (2014-2016).
  • Since the early 1970s, bowel cancer mortality rates have decreased by more than two-fifths (44%) in the UK. Rates in males have decreased by around two-fifths (41%), and rates in females have decreased by half (50%).
  • Over the last decade, bowel cancer mortality rates have decreased by around a seventh (14%) in the UK. Rates in males have decreased by a sixth (17%), and rates in females have decreased by more than a tenth (12%).
  • 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.

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.
  • 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.

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).
  • 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' 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 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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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.