Survival rates for colorectal cancer are based on statistics gathered and analyzed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The NCI issues a five-year statistical survival rate that represents the percentage of patients alive five years after diagnosis and initial treatment. The rate is derived from a combination of factors including the cancer’s location, stage at which it was diagnosed and at what stage treatment began. The NCI designates stages as ‘local’, ‘regional’ and ‘distant’ to correspond with stages also described by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC).
While the 5-year survival rate is high for patients with localized rectal cancer, only 37 percent of colorectal cancers are diagnosed at these stages.
Local or Stages 0, I and II: 92 percent 5-year survival rate
Cancer is contained within the rectum and has not metastasized to other organs or lymph nodes.
Regional or Stage III: 64 percent 5-year survival rate
Cancer has metastasized to neighboring lymph nodes or organs.
Distant or Stage IV: 7 percent 5-year survival rate
The spread of cancer has reached organs in other parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs.