Colorectal cancer in Canada

Colorectal cancer develops in the cell lining of the colon and rectum. Cells may form benign (non-cancerous) growths called polyps. Over a period of years, a series of DNA mutations can occur, leading polyps to become malignant (cancerous).

The data

  • Colorectal cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in Canada
  • 1 in 14 men will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime
  • 1 in 18 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime
  • About 26,300 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2019
  • 93% of colorectal cancers occur in adults aged 50+

Risk factors

  • Age
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Heavy drinking
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Diet high in processed meat, or red meat
  • Family history
  • Colorectal polyps or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Screening and detection

  • 39% of colorectal cancer cases are diagnosed early in their development, at stage I and II*
  • 65% of Canadians diagnosed with colorectal cancer survive 5 or more years


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Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada

Published: 2019-XX-XX

If you are between ages 50 and 74, speak to your doctor about screening or contact your provincial colorectal cancer screening program. Regular screening for colorectal cancer is recommended for average-risk adults aged 50 to 74. Screening guidelines are available from the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care.

For more facts about colorectal cancer visit:

Our Data Blog or and Search: colorectal cancer

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Data Sources: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2019; Statistics Canada, Canadian Cancer Registry CANSIM Table 103-0554; Canadian Partnership Against Cancer - 2017 Cancer System Performance Report.

* Cancer stage distribution is based on eight provinces and does not include Quebec or Ontario.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Health, 2019 | Cat.: HP35-83/2-2019E-PDF | ISBN: 978-0-660-31888-2 | Pub.: 190222

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