How curable is colon cancer?

Dr. Cedrek L. McFadden, MD
Colorectal Surgeon

With early detection, colorectal cancer can be prevented and may even be curable. That is why colonoscopy screenings are generally recommended beginning at age 50.

Colon cancer is very curable and survivable provided detection is early. In this video, Sharmila Anandasabapathy, MD, a gastroenterologist, explains that later detection can result in lower survivability rates.

Dr. Daniel M. Labow, MD
Surgical Oncologist

Colon cancer is very curable if detected early. Surgery is often the only treatment needed for early stage colon cancer; however, surgery plus chemotherapy is often needed when patients are in the more advanced stages of the disease, but the good news is that even some cases of metastatic or Stage 4 colon cancer can be cured.

Nine out of ten people with colorectal cancer found and treated at an early stage, before it has spread, live at least five years. Once the cancer has spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate goes down. The five-year survival rate is the percentage of patients who are alive five years after diagnosis (leaving out those who die of other causes). Of course, patients might live more than five years after diagnosis.

The following colon cancer survival rates are based on the American Joint Committee on Cancer’s staging system, which divides stages II and III into sub-stages. Check with your GI doctor to find out the exact stage of your disease.

Stage/5-year survival rate

  • Stage I: 93 percent
  • Stage IIA: 85 percent
  • Stage IIB: 72 percent
  • Stage IIIA: 83 percent
  • Stage IIIB: 64 percent
  • Stage IIIC: 44 percent
  • Stage IV: 8 percent

These numbers provide an overall picture, but keep in mind that every person’s situation is unique, and the statistics cannot predict exactly what will happen in your case. Talk with your cancer care team if you have questions about how long you might survive your cancer. They know your situation best.

Colorectal cancer can be curable if caught early. If it is contained to the colon there is greater than a 90 percent chance of cure. It is for this reason that screening colonoscopies save lives.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.