Colorectal Cancer Death Statistics for the U.S.

Good News is Found in the Survival Rate for Colorectal Cancer

Cancer Images. Credit: Getty Images / Handout

Death statistics aren't great conversation starters, but they're good to know. You probably don't hear much about colorectal cancer because the word "rectal" isn't one we like to use a whole lot. But, as these death statistics demonstrate, we should talk about it more because of colorectal cancer, and dying from colorectal cancer, is prevalent in our society. But there is good news in those statistics, and you can do a lot to reduce your chance of dying from colorectal cancer.

Death Statistics for Colorectal Cancer in the U.S.

  • Each year, more than 49,000 people die from colorectal cancer.
  • Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death due to cancer for men and women combined. It accounts for 8% of the cancer deaths among men and 9% of the cancer deaths among women. Lung cancer is the first, it kills over 100,000 people per year.
  • That said, colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer for each sex as prostate cancer is the second most deadly in men and breast cancer is the second most deadly in women. You may start a debate with someone if you simply say colorectal cancer is the second leading cause for all people because people involved in preventing and treating breast cancer and prostate cancer know their statistics as well. Now you know how statistics can be quoted to get support for your cause. Both are true - it is the second leading cause of cancer when you are talking about both genders but the third for each gender, behind prostate cancer for men and breast cancer for women.
  • Someone dies from colorectal cancer every 9.3 minutes.
  • More lives are lost each year to colorectal cancer than to breast cancer and AIDS combined.
  • Mortality rates may appear grim, but in fact, they have been falling. Early detection and treatment has allowed the overall death rate to decline by 2.5% per year in recent years
  • Your probability of dying from colorectal cancer rather than any other cause is 1.9%.
  • The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is 65%

Estimated New Cases of Colorectal Cancer per Year

Your lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 21 for men and 1 in 23 for women.

Cancers of the colon and rectum account for 8% of the new cases of cancer in both men and women. Over 134,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Of those, about 95,000 cases will be colon cancer and almost 40,000 cases will be rectal cancer.

Screening is Slowing the Death Rate for Colorectal Cancer

The good news is that the incidence rates have been decreasing in the past 20 years because of screening. As more people get screened at age 50 and older, they have polyps removed before they become cancerous. Treatment for these cancers has made advances and there are over a million colorectal cancer survivors in the United States.

Colorectal cancer is also one of the most common, and yet preventable, cancers. 


Cancer Facts & Figures 2015, American Cancer Society

Key Statistics for colorectal cancer, American Cancer Society, 01/20/2016.

Cancer Statistics Center, American Cancer Society

Medical Encyclopedia: Colon Cancer. Medline Plus. 11/26/2014. [].

National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance. Colorectal Cancer Education CD-ROM.

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