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Original research
Global burden of colorectal cancer in 2020 and 2040: incidence and mortality estimates from GLOBOCAN
  1. Eileen Morgan1,
  2. Melina Arnold1,
  3. A Gini1,
  4. V Lorenzoni1,2,
  5. C J Cabasag1,
  6. Mathieu Laversanne1,
  7. Jerome Vignat1,
  8. Jacques Ferlay1,
  9. Neil Murphy3,
  10. Freddie Bray1
  1. 1 Cancer Surveillance Branch, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France
  2. 2 Institute of Management, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy
  3. 3 Nutrition and Metabolism Branch, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France
  1. Correspondence to Dr Eileen Morgan, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 69372 Lyon CEDEX 08, France; morgane{at}


Objective Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer worldwide. The geographical and temporal burden of this cancer provides insights into risk factor prevalence and progress in cancer control strategies. We examine the current and future burden of CRC in 185 countries in 2020 and 2040.

Methods Data on CRC cases and deaths were extracted from the GLOBOCAN database for the year 2020. Age-standardised incidence and mortality rates were calculated by sex, country, world region and Human Development Index (HDI) for 185 countries. Age-specific rates were also estimated. The predicted number of cases and deaths in 2040 were calculated based on global demographic projections by HDI.

Results Over 1.9 million new CRC cases and 930 000 deaths were estimated in 2020. Incidence rates were highest in Australia/ New Zealand and European regions (40.6 per 100 000, males) and lowest in several African regions and Southern Asia (4.4 per 100 000, females). Similar patterns were observed for mortality rates, with the highest observed in Eastern Europe (20.2 per 100 000, males) and the lowest in Southern Asia (2.5 per 100 000, females). The burden of CRC is projected to increase to 3.2 million new cases and 1.6 million deaths by 2040 with most cases predicted to occur in high or very high HDI countries.

Conclusions CRC is a highly frequent cancer worldwide, and largely preventable through changes in modifiable risk factors, alongside the detection and removal of precancerous lesions. With increasing rates in transitioning countries and younger adults, there is a pressing need to better understand and act on findings to avert future cases and deaths from the disease.

  • epidemiology
  • colorectal cancer

Data availability statement

Data are available in a public, open access repository. The data that support the findings of this study are openly available in the Global Cancer Observatory at

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Data availability statement

Data are available in a public, open access repository. The data that support the findings of this study are openly available in the Global Cancer Observatory at

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  • Contributors Study concept and design: EM and FB. Data collection and interpretation of data: EM, FB and JF. Data analysis: JV, ML and JF. Drafting the manuscript: EM, MA, AG, VL, CJC, NM and FB. Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: all authors. EM is the guarantor of the study and accepts full responsibility for the finished work and/or the conduct of the study, had access to the data and controlled the decision to publish.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.