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Rectal Cancer Survival Rates

The percentage of people who are still alive for a specific period after their diagnosis is referred to as the survival rate for rectal cancer. The information presented here is based on the relative survival rate, which measures the survival of people with rectal cancer in comparison to the general population.

What Are Rectal Cancer Survival Rates?

Rectal cancer survival rates indicate the percentage of people who survive the disease for a specific period after their diagnosis. In most cases, statistics refer to the five-year survival rate. This is the percentage of people who are alive five years after their diagnosis, whether they have few or no signs or symptoms of rectal cancer, are free of disease, or are receiving treatment.
The survival rates for rectal cancer included in this article are based on large groups of people; they cannot be used to predict what will happen to a particular patient. No two patients are exactly alike -- rectal cancer treatment and responses to treatment vary greatly. The survival rates discussed in this article reflect national statistics that combine data from cases of both colon and rectal cancer.

Factors Influencing Survival Rates for Rectal Cancer

In general, rectal cancer survival rates will depend on:
  • The stage of disease (see Rectal Cancer Stages)
  • The patient's age and general health.
  • Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has come back (recurred).

Overall Survival Rates

Survival rates for rectal cancer can be calculated by different methods for different purposes. The rates presented here are based on the relative survival rate. This measures the survival of people with rectal cancer in comparison to the general population to estimate the effect of the disease.
The overall five-year relative rectal cancer survival rate for 1996-2002 was 64.1 percent. The five-year relative survival rates by race and sex were:
  • 66.0 percent for white men
  • 64.2 percent for white women
  • 55.6 percent for black men
  • 53.9 percent for black women.
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