Colon Cancer Awareness
March is “Colon Cancer Awareness Month!” In celebration, DHS would like to share some interesting facts and stats with you about colon cancer. More info can be found here at The Colon Cancer Alliance website.
- Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the U.S.
- On average, the lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is about one in 20 (5.1%); however, this varies widely according to individual risk factors
- About 72% of cases arise in the colon and about 28% in the rectum
With regular screening, colon cancer can be found early- when treatment is most effective. In many cases, screening can prevent colon cancer by finding and removing polyps before they become cancer. A screening colonoscopy is the best way to find and remove by finding and removing polyps before they become cancer. And if cancer is present, early detection means a chance at a longer life!
Generally, survival rates for colon cancer are lower the further advanced the disease is at detection.
- Over 90% of those diagnosed when the cancer is found at a local stage (confined in the colon or rectum) survive more than five years
- Once the cancer is diagnosed at a regional stage (spread to surrounding tissue) the rate drops to 69%
- When the cancer has also spread to distant sites, only 12% of those diagnosed will reach the five-year survival milestone
Stage of Diagnosis
Unfortunately, the majority of colon cancers are not found early before it has spread.
Colon Cancer and Age
- 90% of new cases and 95% of deaths from colon cancer occur in people 50 or old. However, colon cancer does not discriminate and can strike men and women of any age
- While rates for colon cancer in adults 50 and older have been declining, incidence rates in adults younger than 50 years have been rising
Colon Cancer and Family History
- People with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or children) who has colon cancer are between two and three times more likely to develop colon cancer than those with no family history
Colon Cancer Survival Rates
Since the mid-1980s, the colon cancer death rate has been dropping due in part to increased awareness and screening. Finding polyps and cancer in the earlier (local and regional) stages makes it easier to treat. Improved treatment options have also contributed to a rise in survival rates.
- The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the local stage is 90%
- The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the regional stage is 70%
- The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the distant stage is 12%
- There are currently more than one million colon cancer survivors alive in the U.S!
These statistics were compiled from the American Cancer Society’s Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2011-2013.