Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or the rectum. These cancers can also be called colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they start. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because they have many features in common.
According to the CDC, “Not counting some kinds of skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and women. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.”
According to Cancer.net, “This year, an estimated 151,030 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. These numbers include 106,180 new cases of colon cancer (54,040 men and 52,140 women) and 44,850 new cases of rectal cancer (26,650 men and 18,200 women). Worldwide, colorectal cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer. An estimated 1,880,725 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2020. These numbers include 1,148,515 colon cancer cases and 732,210 rectal cancer cases.
The good news is that the number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States has been decreasing since the mid-1980s. From 2014 to 2018, incidence rates dropped by about 2% each year in adults aged 50 and older. This was due to increased screening.
When colorectal cancer is found early, it can often be cured. The death rate from this type of cancer in 2019 in the United States was 56% less than what it was in 1970. This is due to improvements in treatment and increased screening, which finds colorectal changes before they turn cancerous and cancer at earlier stages. Overall, the death rate decreased around 2% each year from 2015 to 2019. Currently, there are over 1.5 million colorectal cancer survivors in the United States.