Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women. According to the American Cancer Society, each year there are an estimated 101,000 colon and 40,000 rectal cancer cases diagnosed in the US, with an estimated 49,000 deaths, for about 9% of cancer deaths. Incidence and mortality rates continue to decline in both men and women, reflecting earlier detection through increased screening and improvements in diagnosis and treatment.
Early diagnosis of this disease is one of the key elements to its cure. Colorectal cancers probably develop slowly over a period of several years. Before a true cancer develops, there are often earlier changes in the lining of the colon or rectum. If disease is found early, before colorectal cancer has spread, it is considered curable. However, as the tumor spreads to involve adjacent organs or lymph nodes, a patient's five-year survival rate drops to 68%. If the cancer has already spread to distant organs, the long-term survival rate decreases substantially.
Source: American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2011. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2011