Colorectal cancer

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Colorectal cancer statistics

Colorectal cancer is the 2nd most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers). It is the 2nd leading cause of death from cancer in men and the 3rd leading cause of death from cancer in women in Canada.

To provide the most current cancer statistics, statistical methods are used to estimate the number of new cancer cases and deaths until actual data become available.

Incidence and mortality

Incidence is the total number of new cases of cancer. Mortality is the number of deaths due to cancer.

It is estimated that in 2016:

  • 26,100 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. This represents 13% of all new cancer cases in 2016.
  • 9,300 Canadians will die from colorectal cancer. This represents 12% of all cancer deaths in 2016.
  • 14,500 men will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 5,000 will die from it.
  • 11,600 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 4,300 will die from it.
  • On average, 72 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer every day.
  • On average, 25 Canadians will die from colorectal cancer every day.

Estimated Canadian colorectal cancer statistics (2016)

New cases



Incidence rate (for every 100,000 people)*






Death rate (for every 100,000 people)*



5-year net survival (estimates for 2006–2008)



*Age-standardized to the 2011 Canadian Standard Population. Age-standardization is a statistical method that removes the effect of age on the calculated rate. It allows rates to be compared over time or across provinces and territories.

Pie chart of percentage of all estimated new cancer cases in 2016 both sexes combined
 Pie chart of percentage of estimated cancer deaths of both sexes in 2016 from colorectal and all other cancers combined

Trends in colorectal cancer

Starting from the mid-1980s, incidence rates declined for both sexes until the mid-1990s (although this decline was more prominent for females). Incidence rates then rose through 2000, only to decrease slightly thereafter. This is most likely due to increased use of colorectal cancer screening which can identify and remove precancerous polyps, which can in turn reduce incidence.

Death rates have been declining between 2003 and 2012 for both males and females. Most of this decline is likely driven by improved diagnosis and treatment.  

Chances (probability) of developing or dying from colorectal cancer

Based on 2010 estimates:

  • About 1 in 14 Canadian men is expected to develop colorectal cancer during his lifetime and 1 in 29 will die from it.
  • About 1 in 16 Canadian women is expected to develop colorectal cancer during her lifetime and 1 in 32 will die from it.

For more information, go to the Canadian Cancer Statistics publication.


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