What Affects Rectal Cancer Survival Rates?

Overview of Rectal Cancer Survival Rates

A rectal cancer cell.
A rectal cancer cell. STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/Getty Images

When faced with the uncertainty of cancer, it's human nature to want to learn as much as possible about the disease and to try to figure out how it's all going to play out. The purpose of the rectal cancer survival rates presented here is to help give a sense of the problem at hand, but it is important to remember that survival rates are generalizations and individual chances of survival may be quite different.

Rectal Cancer Survival Rates in Different Countries

According to an article published in the European Journal of Cancer, rectal cancer survival rates vary by country. While the overall five-year survival rate for rectal cancer in America is 59%, it's 42% in Europe. Quality of care may be one reason, but another could be colorectal cancer screening programs. In general, the earlier rectal cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat.

Rectal Cancer Survival Rate and Stage at Diagnosis

Stage at diagnosis greatly impacts rectal cancer survival rates. Research published in the ANZ Journal of Surgery found that in Australia, the five-year survival for stage 1 rectal cancer was 88 percent, but it dropped to 56 percent for stage 3 rectal cancer. (The five-year survival rate represents the percentage of patients alive five years after their initial diagnosis.)

Gender and Rectal Cancer Survival Rate

Gender is another factor that may influence rectal cancer survival rates.

A study published in the journal Diseases of the Colon and Rectum found that women in Singapore have consistently lower rectal cancer survival rates than men. For details, please read Rectal Cancer Survival Rates for Adenocarcinoma and Rectal Cancer Survival Rates for Mucinous Adenocarcinoma.

Rectal Cancer Survival Rate and Exercise

Most of the factors I've mentioned are out of your control.

You live where you live, you're the gender you were born with, and you caught it when you caught 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 found that moderate exercise can significantly increase the survival rate of colorectal cancer patients. Why not learn more about the impact of exercise on colorectal cancer survival?


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.

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.

Wybe, A. and Syse, A. "Oncological Outcomes After Total Mesorectal Excision for Cure for Cancer of the Lower Rectum: Anterior vs Abdominoperineal Resection." Diseases of the Colon and Rectum 47.1 (Jan. 2004): 48-58. PubMed. 9 Aug. 2006.

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