Colorectal cancer

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Survival statistics for colorectal cancer

Survival statistics for colorectal cancer are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for colorectal cancer and what they mean to you.

Net survival

Net survival represents the probability of surviving cancer in the absence of other causes of death. It is used to give an estimate of the percentage of people who will survive their cancer.

In Canada, the 5-year net survival for colorectal cancer is 64%. This means that, on average, about 64% of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer will survive for at least 5 years.

Survival by stage

Survival varies with each stage of colorectal cancer. Generally, the earlier colorectal cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of colorectal cancer. The following information comes from a variety of sources. It may include statistics from other countries that are likely to have similar outcomes as in Canada.

Relative survival compares the survival for a group of people with cancer to the survival expected for a group of people in the general population who share similar characteristics as the people with cancer (such as age and sex).

Colon cancer survival
Stage5-year relative survival

1

92%

2A

87%

2B

65%

3A

90%

3B

72%

3C

53%

4

12%

Rectal cancer survival
Stage5-year relative survival

1

88%

2A

81%

2B

50%

3A

83%

3B

72%

3C

58%

4

13%

Questions about survival

Talk to your doctor about your prognosis. A prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • your health history
  • the type of cancer
  • the stage
  • certain characteristics of the cancer
  • the treatments chosen
  • how the cancer responds to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

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