Bowel cancer (Colorectal cancer) in Australia statistics

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The following material has been sourced from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Colorectal cancer incorporates ICD-10 cancer codes C18 (Malignant neoplasm of colon), C19 (Malignant neoplasm of rectosigmoid junction) C20 (Malignant neoplasm of the rectum), and C26 (Malignant neoplasm of other and ill-defined digestive organs): Incidence (C18–C20), mortality (C18–C20, C26.0).


Estimated number of new cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed in 2023

15,367 = Male icon PNG8,133 males + Female icon PNG7,234 females


Estimated % of all new cancer cases diagnosed in 2023

9.3%


Estimated number of deaths from colorectal cancer in 2023

5,307 = Male icon PNG2,810 males + Female icon PNG2,497 females


Estimated % of all deaths from cancer in 2023

10%


Chance of surviving at least 5 years (2015–2019)

71%


People living with colorectal cancer at the end of 2018 (diagnosed in the 5 year period 2014 to 2018)

56,095


New cases 

Colorectal cancer was the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2019. It is estimated that it will remain the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2023.

In 2019, there were 15,531 new cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed in Australia (8,463 males and 7,068 females). In 2023, it is estimated that 15,367 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in Australia (8,133 males and 7,234 females). In 2023, it is estimated that a person has a 1 in 20 (or 4.9%) risk of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer by the age of 85 (1 in 19 or 5.3% for males and 1 in 22 or 4.5% for females).

Figure 1. Estimated cancer incidence in Australia, 2023

Figure 1. Estimated cancer incidence in Australia, 2023

Notes

In 2019, the age-standardised incidence rate was 65 cases per 100,000 persons (76 for males and 56 for females). In 2023, it is estimated that the age-standardised incidence rate will be 58 cases per 100,000 persons (66 for males and 52 for females). The incidence rate for bowel cancer is expected to increase with age, highest for those aged 85–89 years.

Figure 2. Age-standardised incidence rates for colorectal cancer cancer, 1982 to 2019, by sex

Figure 2. Age-standardised incidence rates for colorectal cancer cancer, 1982 to 2019, by sex

Notes

  • Data sourced from AIHW Cancer Data in Australia 2023 web report and supplementary data tables 
  • Age standardised rates are standardised to the 2023 Australian Standard Population
  • More information about incidence rates for colorectal cancer over time, by age, sex, Indigenous status, remoteness, and socioeconomic status (SES) can be found on the NCCI website in the ‘Cancer incidence’ section (https://ncci.canceraustralia.gov.au/diagnosis/cancer-incidence/cancer-incidence)

The number of new cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed increased from 6,992 (3,527 males and 3,465 females) in 1982 to 15,531 in 2019. Over the same period, the age-standardised incidence rate decreased from 74 cases per 100,000 persons (86 for males and 66 for females) in 1982 to 65 cases per 100,000 in 2019.

Deaths

In 2021, colorectal cancer was the second most common cause of cancer death in Australia. It is estimated that it will remain the second most common cause of death from cancer in 2023.

In 2021, there were 5,350 deaths from colorectal cancer in Australia (2,838 males and 2,512 females). In 2023, it is estimated that there will be 5,307 deaths (2,810 males and 2,497 females). In 2023, it is estimated that a person has a 1 in 69 (or 1.4%) risk of dying from colorectal cancer by the age of 85 (1 in 61 or 1.6% for males and 1 in 79 or 1.3% for females).

Figure 3. Estimated cancer mortality in Australia, 2023

Figure 3. Estimated cancer mortality in Australia, 2023

Notes

In 2021, the age-standardised mortality rate was 21 deaths per 100,000 persons (25 for males and 18 for females). In 2023, it is estimated that the age-standardised mortality rate will be 20 deaths per 100,000 persons (24 for males and 17 for females). The mortality rate for colorectal cancer is expected to increase with age.

Figure 4. Age-standardised mortality rates for colorectal cancer cancer, 1982 to 2021, by sex

Figure 4. Age-standardised mortality rates for colorectal cancer cancer, 1982 to 2021, by sex

Notes

  • Data sourced from AIHW Cancer Data in Australia 2023 web report and supplementary data tables
  • Age standardised rates are standardised to the 2023 Australian Standard Population
  • More information about mortality rates for colorectal cancer over time, by age, sex, Indigenous status, remoteness, and socioeconomic status (SES) can be found on the NCCI website in the ‘Cancer mortality’ section (https://ncci.canceraustralia.gov.au/outcomes/cancer-mortality/cancer-mortality)

The number of deaths from colorectal cancer increased from 3,704 (1,873 males and 1,831 females) in 1982 to 5,350 persons in 2021. Over the same period, the age-standardised mortality rate decreased from 43 deaths per 100,000 persons (50 for males and 37 for females) in 1982 to 21 deaths per 100,000 in 2021. 

Survival

In 2015–2019, individuals diagnosed with colorectal cancer had a 71% chance (70% for males and 72% for females) of surviving for five years compared to their counterparts in the general Australian population. Between 1990–1994 and 2015–2019, five-year relative survival for colorectal cancer increased from 55% to 71%.

Figure 5. 5-year relative survival for colorectal cancer, 1990–1994 to 2015–2019, by sex

Figure 5. 5-year relative survival for colorectal cancer, 1990–1994 to 2015–2019, by sex

Notes

Prevalence

At the end of 2018, there were 13,726 people living who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer that year, 56,095 people living who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the previous 5 years (from 2014 to 2018) and 153,913 people living who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the previous 37 years (from 1982 to 2018).

For more information, see Colorectal cancer on the NCCI website

The National Cancer Control Indicators (NCCI) are a set of indicators across the continuum of cancer care, from Prevention and Screening through to Diagnosis, Treatment, Psychosocial care, Research and Outcomes. The NCCI website allows users to see visual representations of data on each indicator through interactive charts.