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How Common Is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer -- cancer of the colon or rectum -- is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that 56,730 Americans will die of colorectal cancer this year. Colorectal cancer is also one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States; approximately 146,940 new cases will be diagnosed in 2004. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and in women.


Who Is at Risk?

The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with advancing age, with more than 90% of cases occurring in persons aged 50 years or older. Other risk factors include inflammatory bowel disease, a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps, and certain hereditary syndromes. Lifestyle factors that may contribute to increased risk of colorectal cancer include lack of regular physical activity, low fruit and vegetable intake, a low-fiber and high-fat diet, obesity, alcohol consumption, and tobacco use.

Screening can detect precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into colorectal cancer. Screening also can find colorectal cancer early, when the chance for a full recovery is very high. If you’re 50 or older, talk to your doctor and get screened for colorectal cancer.


Want to read more? 

See the CDC Fact Sheet.



"You might look and feel fine, but you need to get the inside story. Colorectal cancer often has no symptoms, so please get tested. I did." Katie Couric, Co-Founder EIF’s National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance