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, researchers use statistical methods 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.

In 2017, an estimated:

  • 26,800 Canadians were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. This represents 13% of all new cancer cases in 2017.
  • 9,400 Canadians died from colorectal cancer. This represents 12% of all cancer deaths in 2017.
  • 14,900 men were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 5,100 died from it.
  • 11,900 women were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 4,300 died from it.
  • On average, 73 Canadians were diagnosed with colorectal cancer every day.
  • On average, 26 Canadians died from colorectal cancer every day.

Estimated Canadian colorectal cancer statistics (2017)

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.

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, only to decrease again, beginning in 2000 for females and 2008 for males. 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 2004 and 2012 for males and between 1992 and 2012 for females. Most of this decline is likely driven by improved diagnosis and treatment.

Chances (probability) of developing or dying from colorectal cancer

It is estimated that about 1 in 13 Canadian men will develop colorectal cancer during his lifetime and 1 in 29 will die from it.

It is estimated that about 1 in 16 Canadian women will develop colorectal cancer during her lifetime and 1 in 34 will die from it.

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


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