By the Numbers: Colorectal Cancer

May 2024 – The Journal of Healthcare Contracting


Individuals with a family history of colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, and those who have had cancer before should test for colorectal cancer annually. The risk for developing colon cancer is much higher for at risk groups, according to the CDC.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there is an estimated 5-year survival rate of 65 percent for individuals diagnosed with colorectal cancer. If you fall into a category with higher risk, test early and often to ensure you are healthy and cancer-free.


In 2023, colorectal cancer had an estimated 153,020 new cases throughout the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. In 2020, the National Cancer Institute estimated that nearly 1,388,422 people were currently living with colorectal cancer in the United States.


The pandemic greatly impacted cancer screening, as many people delayed or stopped testing altogether. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), from March 2019 to March 2020, there was a 38.4% decrease in colorectal cancer screening. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, recognizing the importance of getting colorectal cancer screening back on track and increasing early disease diagnosis.


Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer among men and women, and the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The rate of new cases of colorectal cancer nationally is 36.6 per 100,000 men and women, per year, according to the National Cancer Institute.


Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer for short, is a disease in which cells in the rectum grow out of control. The colon is the large intestine, and the rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus. Abnormal growths called polyps can form in the colon or rectum, and over time, some polyps may turn cancerous. Approximately 4.1 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer at some point during their lifetime, according to 2017-2019 data from the National Cancer Institute. Screening tests help to find colorectal cancer in its early stages, when treatment works best.


Colorectal cancer rates are increasing nationally, especially among younger adults, according to the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society. Nearly 18,000 people under 50 were estimated to have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the U.S. in 2020. Factors that impact the risk of developing colorectal cancer include obesity, inactivity, and smoking.


A colonoscopy is the primary test for identifying colorectal cancer, and it is recommended for all individuals aged 45 and older, according to The American Cancer Society. The test looks for signs of cancer in an individual’s stool to determine abnormalities. Signs and symptoms of colon cancer, according to Mayo Clinic, include a change in bowel habits, stomach discomfort, bleeding, weakness, and weight loss.

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