Bowel cancer includes cancers of the large intestine (colon), the end part of the intestine (rectum) and its rear opening (anus).
Half of the people who develop colon and rectum cancers are over 70 years old, but where there is a family history of these cancers they are often under 50 years old when it starts. Other diseases within the bowel (polyps and ulcerative colitis) make these cancers more likely to occur.
In 2002 Bowel cancer caused 1.7% of deaths in people over 60 years old (table 5c) and 2.6% of all deaths in rich territories (table 4a).
Bowel cancer caused 1.1% of all deaths worldwide in 2002, an average of 100 deaths per million people per year and 9% of all deaths from cancer.