Overview of Colon Cancer Survival Rates

An Overview of Colon Cancer Survival Rates

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When faced with the uncertainty of cancer, it's human nature to learn as much as we can about it and try to figure out how it's all going to play out. Of course, we can't really know, but that's not the point. We just need something to grab on to. Something that gives us some general idea of where this bus is headed. So, here you are.

The purpose of the colon cancer survival rates presented here is to help settle your mind, to give you a number.

It's important to remember that the colon cancer survival rates presented here are generalizations and your individual chances of survival may be quite different.

Colon Cancer Survival Rate and Tumor Location

According to an article published in the European Journal of Cancer, tumor location impacts colon cancer survival rate. In the United States, for example, the five-year survival rate for tumors in the ascending colon (closest to the small intestine) is about 63%. In the transverse colon, the survival rate is about 59%, and in the descending colon, it's about 66%. (The five-year survival rate represents the percentage of patients alive five years after their initial diagnosis.)

Colon Cancer Survival Rates in Different Countries

According to the same study, colon cancer survival rates also vary by country. While the overall five-year survival for colon cancer in America is 62%, it's 43% in Europe.

The quality of care may be one reason, but another could be colon cancer screening programs. In general, the earlier colon cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat.

Colon Cancer Survival Rate and Stage at Diagnosis

The stage at diagnosis also greatly impacts colon cancer survival rates. Research published in the ANZ Journal of Surgery found that In Australia, the five-year survival for stage 1 colon cancer is 93%, but it drops to 59% for stage 3 colon cancer.

For more information about colon cancer stages in general, please read Colon Cancer Stages.

Colon Cancer Survival Rate and Exercise

Most of the factors I've mentioned are out of your control. You live where you live and you didn't choose to have colon cancer, so you didn't get to pick which kind to get or where to get it. So, what can you do to improve your chances of survival now that you have it? Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston conducted two studies, both of which revealed that moderate exercise can significantly increase the survival rate of colon cancer patients. Another study, published in the journal Gut, shed some light on why exercise may increase colon cancer survival rates.


Gattaj, G. and Ciccolallo, L. "Differences in Colorectal Cancer Survival Between European and US Populations: The Importance of Sub-Site and Morphology." European Journal of Cancer 39.15 (Oct. 2003): 2214-2222. PubMed. 21 Jun. 2006 [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=14522381&dopt=Abstract].

McLeish, John A. and Thursfield, Vicky J. "Survival from Colorectal Cancer in Victoria: 10-Year Follow-Up of the 1987 Management Survey." ANZ Journal of Surgery 72.5 (2002): 352. Blackwell Synergy. 25 Jun. 2006.