Colorectal Cancer, United States—2007–2016

U.S. Cancer Statistics Data Briefs, No. 16
March 2020

In 2016, 141,270 new colorectal cancer cases and 52,286 deaths from colorectal cancer were reported in the United States. Also in that year, colorectal cancers accounted for 8.5% of all new malignant cancer cases and 8.7% of all cancer deaths in the United States.

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Rates by Sex, Race, and Ethnicity

The incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer varies by sex, race, and ethnicity (Figure 1). Overall, black males and females have higher incidence and mortality rates than white, American Indian and Alaska Native, and Asian and Pacific Islander males and females. Non-Hispanic males and females have higher incidence and mortality rates then Hispanic males and females.

Figure 1. Colorectal cancer incidence and mortality age-adjusted ratesa by sex, race, and ethnicity, United States, 2016

aRates are per 100,000 and age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. standard population.

Healthy People 2020 objectives include reducing the colorectal cancer incidence rate to 40.0 per 100,000 persons and the mortality rate to 14.5 per 100,000 persons. These targets were met among females but not yet among males (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Colorectal cancer incidence and mortality ratesa by sex and Healthy People 2020 targets, United States, 2007–2016

aRates are per 100,000 and age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. standard population.

Colorectal cancer mostly affects adults 50 years and older. The peak of colorectal cancer incidence is among 65 to 69 year olds (n=19,481 cases) (Figure 3). Mortality counts increase as age increases up to 69 years and then plateau among 70 to 84 year olds.

Figure 3. Colorectal cancer incidence and mortality counts by 5-year age groups, United States, 2016

*Data are suppressed when there are fewer than 16 cases.

From 2012 to 2016, the rate of colorectal cancer incidence and mortality increased among 20 to 49 year olds and decreased among individuals 65 years and older (Figure 4). Behavioral risk factors, including excess body fat and physical inactivity, may be contributing to the increase in colorectal cancers among younger adults.1,2

Figure 4. Trends in incidence and mortality ratesa by age groups, United States, 2012–2016

aRates are per 100,000 and age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. standard population.

Annual Percent Change (APC) per Age Group
Age Group Incidence APC Mortality APC
20 to 49 years arrow alt circle up icon2.67* arrow alt circle up icon1.31*
50 to 64 years arrow alt circle up icon0.90 arrow alt circle up icon0.04
65 years and over arrow alt circle down icon-3.86 arrow alt circle down icon-2.66

*Annual percent change (APC) was statistically significant from zero (P<0.05)

Conclusion

Colorectal cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people 50 years or older. Colorectal cancer screening can detect and remove precancerous polyps, potentially preventing future cancers. Screening can also detect cancers at an earlier stage when a person may be asymptomatic and when treatment is most effective. However, millions of adults age 50 to 75 are not being screened for colorectal cancer as recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.external icon

CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program has funded awardees to increase colorectal screening rates. Awardees work with health systems and clinics that serve high-need groups to help them follow recommendations from The Community Guideexternal icon to use evidence-based interventionsexternal icon, such as reducing non-economic burdens or obstacles that make accessing screening difficult. The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtableexternal icon, co-founded by CDC, is working with partners to achieve 80% colorectal cancer screening in every community by reducing screening barriers.

Data sources

Data in this brief come from U.S. Cancer Statistics, the official federal cancer statistics.

U.S. Cancer Statistics incidence data are from population-based registries that participate in CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) and/or the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program and meet high-quality data for the November 2018 data submission, covering 100% of the U.S. population.

U.S Cancer Statistics death data are from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics National Vital Statistics System and cover 100% of U.S. population.

Data were analyzed using SEER*Stat (version 8.3.6).

References

1 Siegel RL, Fedewa SA, Anderson WF, et al. Colorectal Cancer Incidence Patterns in the United States, 1974–2013.external icon JNCI 2017;109(8).

2 Liu PH, Wu K, Ng K, et al. Association of Obesity with Risk of Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer Among Women.external icon JAMA Oncol 2019;5(1):37-44.

Suggested Citation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Colorectal cancer, United States—2007–2016. USCS Data Brief, no. 16. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health and Human Services; 2020.

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