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Cancer arising in the colon or rectum is quite common in the US, being the fourth most common site for cancer.

One way of comparing how prevalent a cancer is, is to compare how many cases are diagnosed for every 100,000 people in a given area. For the entire United States, the incidence of colon or rectal cancer is about 49 cases for every 100,000 people. Since the US population totals 307 million people, that comes out to over 150,000 new cases per year. This data comes from SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results), a division of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which combines colon and rectal cancers together.

In Georgia, the incidence rate is slightly lower, at 47/100,000, which means that about there are about 4,700 new cases per year. DeKalb County’s incidence rate is only 42/100,000, which translates into about 300 new cases per year. About 1/3 of these patients are treated at DeKalb Medical.

For reasons that are not clear, the incidence for colon and rectal cancer is higher in African Americans than in Caucasians, and particularly in men. The American Cancer Society shows this data in a table below that compares the data for men and women separately. It also shows the number of people who die from colon or rectal cancer each year in these subgroups, and it shows how the incidence and mortality rates have changed over the past 30 years. It is gratifying to see that both the incidence and the mortality rates are trending downward. But we still have a lot of room for improvement. It is hoped that if we can increase the number of people who get screened for colon and rectal cancer, that we can further decrease the number of people who die. As you can see, screening is probably most important for African American men, but it is of course important for everyone.


Suggested next pages

Etiology of Colon Cancer

Symptoms  and  Signs of Colon Cancer

Diagnosis of Colon Cancer

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