Orange Coast Radiation Oncology Center

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon and/or rectum. The colon and rectum, when combined, form what many refer to as the “large intestine.” This intestine’s main responsibility is to rid the body of waste and process food for energy. It is the final part of the gastrointestinal tract. Though colorectal cancer is fairly rare, it is important that individuals—especially those who present risk factors—get the facts about colorectal cancer and possible treatments. 

Colorectal Cancer Occurrence Rates

According to Cancer.org, approximately 4.6% of men and 4.2% of women will receive a colorectal cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. At the time of the study, it was estimated that the U.S. would see an estimated 95,520 new cases of colon cancer and 39,910 new cases of rectal cancer. When it comes to colon cancer, the disease does not discriminate between men and women, with both gender groups seeing about the same number of diagnoses on a year-over-year basis. However, more men tend to be diagnosed with rectal cancer than women. 

Survival Rate of Colorectal Cancer

Like with all cancers, early colorectal cancer treatment is key to a positive outcome. That said, the average five-year survival rate for this disease is as follows: 

  • 90% when cancer is diagnosed at a localized stage 
  • 71% when the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues, organs or lymph nodes
  • 14% if the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body 

Approximately 39% of patients are diagnosed with the cancer when it is still localized. Survival rates for rectal cancer are slightly lower, with the overall survival rate at 67%. This is because rectal cancer is more difficult to diagnose. 

Colorectal Cancer Symptoms

Unfortunately, CRC does not present symptoms early on, which is why routine screening after a certain age is crucial. As the tumor grows, it will begin to obstruct the intestine, which is when symptoms may start to arise. Initial symptoms may include weakness, excessive fatigue and shortness of breath. A person might also notice the following: 

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in the stool or urine 
  • Black or dark-colored stools 
  • Discomfort or cramping in the lower abdomen
  • A change in bowel habits or the shape of the stool
  • The need to make a bowel movement even when the bowel is empty

Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer tends to occur in certain age and ethnicity groups. For instance, the median age for diagnosis of colon cancer is 68 in men and 72 in women. For rectal cancer, it is 63 for both men and women. However, in recent years, data reveals that the rate of diagnosis is rising in younger populations and declining in older groups. The diagnosis rate for individuals 50 years or younger rose from 6% in 1990 to 11% in 2013. 72% of cases in younger groups occur in people who are in their 40s. 

The incidence rates of CRC are about 30% higher in men than in women. Mortality rates are 40% higher for men than their female counterparts. 

The highest rates of colorectal cancer occur in non-Hispanic blacks. Asians/Pacific Islanders have the lowest incidence rates. Non-Hispanic whites have a 20% incidence rate than non-Hispanic blacks. Though the reasons for the disparities are complex, researchers believe socioeconomic status plays a role. 

Additional risk factors for CRC are as follows: 

  • Medical history 
  • Genetics
  • Obesity 
  • Alcohol consumption 
  • Smoking
  • Red meat consumption
  • Lack of physical activity 

Learn About Colon Cancer Treatment

If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with colorectal cancer, it’s not enough to know the facts about colorectal cancer. Learn more about colorectal cancer treatment by contacting the team at Orange County CyberKnife today.