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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are the survival rates of someone with bowel cancer?

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    Bowel Cancer Australia is the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and care for everyone affected by bowel cancer. We … View Profile

    The earlier bowel cancer is detected, diagnosed and treated, the better the likely prognosis. However, when bowel cancer has spread to other organs, such as the liver or lungs, many treatments can help, but a cure is more difficult.

    • 90% of bowel cancers detected at their earliest stage can be treated successfully.* However, currently fewer than 40% are detected early.

    • 61.8% of people diagnosed with bowel cancer survive 5 years.** 
    South Australian data (Epidemiology of cancer in South Australia. Incidence, mortality and survival 1977 to 1996) has shown that 5-year survival varies with the Australian clinicopathological stage (ACPS): 88% for Stage A (confined to the bowel wall); 70% for Stage B (confined to the bowel wall), 43% for stage C (regional nodal involvement), and 7% for stage D (distant metastases).
    A 2004 American study has shown that the 5-year survival rate is around 93% for people diagnosed with Stage A bowel cancer; 82% for people diagnosed with Stage B bowel cancer; 59% for people diagnosed with Stage C bowel cancer; and 8% for people diagnosed with Stage D or metastatic bowel cancer.
    Overall, around 62% of people who have had their bowel cancer successfully removed are alive five years after their diagnosis.
    These survival statistics represent the average number of people alive five years after their diagnosis and do not represent a single persons’ chance of survival.  Talk to your specialist about your prognosis as many factors can influence your situation.
    Information taken from the Bowel Cancer Australia website

    *National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Guidelines for the Prevention, Early Detection and Management of Colorectal Cancer
       Sydney. 2005. p.4.
    *Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Cancer Australia & Australasian Association of Cancer Registries 2008. Cancer survival and prevalence in Australia: cancers diagnosed from 1982 to 2004.  Cancer Series no. 42. Cat. no. CAN 38. Canberra: AIHW.  p.17

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