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Prognosis of colon and rectum cancer

Expected survival has steadily improved in the past 30 years (18). Cancer specific survival at 5 years is:

  • Around 90% of survival for localized disease (in and outside the bowel without lymph node metastases)
  • Around 76% survival for regional lymph node disease
  • Around 13% survival for distant metastases

Around half of the local relapses occur within 2 years and 2/3 within 3 years after surgery. Relapses after 5 years is very seldom, but may appear after preoperative irradiation.

Most relapses appear as distant metastases. Local relapses are found in around 5%.  


Five-year relative survival of patients with cancer in the rectum and colon, in percent during the diagnosis period 1974–2013.

Source: Cancer Registry of Norway


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