How Long Do You Live After Being Diagnosed with Colon Cancer?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Ask the experts

My uncle was just diagnosed with colon cancer, but it hasn't metastasized yet as far as his doctors can tell. How long do you live after being diagnosed with colon cancer?

Doctor's response

Survival rates for any cancer are often reported by stage, the extent of spread when the cancer is identified. For colon and rectum cancer, around 39% are diagnosed at the local stage, before the cancer has spread outside the local area. The five-year survival for these patients with localized colon and rectum cancer is around 90%.

When the cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes near the site of origin, the five-year survival rate is about 71%. When the cancer has metastasized to distant sites in the body (stage IV cancer), the five-year survival rate lowers to about 14%.

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REFERENCES:

American Cancer Society. "Colon Cancer Survival Rates, by Stage." Mar. 2, 2017.<https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html>.

Imperiale, T.F., D.F. Ransohoff, S.H. Itzkowitz, et al. "Multitarget stool DNA testing for colorectal-cancer screening." N Engl J Med 370.14 (2014): 1987-97.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Colorectal cancer." Dec. 6, 2017. <https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/>.

United States. National Cancer Institute. "Cancer Stat Facts: Colorectal Cancer." <https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/colorect.html>.

United States. National Cancer Institute. "Colorectal cancer." <https://www.cancer.gov/types/colorectal>.

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Reviewed on 5/31/2018