Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly occurring cancer in men and the second most commonly occurring cancer in women. There were over 1.8 million new cases in 2018. The top 25 countries with the highest rates of colorectal cancer in 2018 are given in the tables below.

The Continuous Update Project Panel judged there was strong evidence that consuming processed meat, red meat and alcoholic drinks, greater body fatness and adult attained height increase the risk of colorectal cancer. There was also strong evidence that physical activity is protective against colon cancer specifically and that wholegrains, foods containing dietary fibre, dairy products and calcium supplements decrease the risk of colorectal cancer. Read about all the evidence in our Third Expert Report.

Colorectal cancer is considered one of the clearest markers of epidemiological and nutritional transition, with incidence rates of this cancer – together with other cancers linked to Western lifestyles – increasing as previous high rates of infection-related cancers decline in countries that are undergoing rapid societal and economic changes1,2,3. See and compare cancer statistics in more and less developed countries here.

We also fund research on colorectal cancer through our regular grant programme. Read the findings here.

Age-standardised rates are used in the tables. This is a summary measure of the rate of disease that a population would have if it had a standard age structure. Standardisation is necessary when comparing populations that differ with respect to age because age has a powerful influence on the risk of dying from cancer.

Colorectal cancer rates: both sexes

Hungary had the highest rate of colorectal cancer in 2018, followed by South Korea.

Rank Country Age-standardised rate per 100,000
1 Hungary 51.2
2 South Korea 44.5
3 Slovakia 43.8
4 Norway 42.9
5 Slovenia 41.1
6 Denmark 41.0
6 Portugal 40.0
8= Barbados 38.9
8= Japan 38.9
10 Netherlands 37.8
11 Australia 36.9
12 Singapore 36.8
13 Serbia 36.7
14= Belgium 35.3
14= New Zealand 35.3
16= Uruguay 35.0
16= Brunei 35.0
18 Moldova 34.2
19 Croatia 34.1
20 Ireland 34.0
21 Spain 33.4
22 Latvia 33.0
23 Czech Republic 32.7
24 UK 32.1
25 Belarus 31.8

Colorectal cancer rates in men

Hungary had the highest rate of colorectal cancer in men in 2018, followed by Slovakia.

Rank Country Age-standardised rate per 100,000
1 Hungary 70.6
2 Slovakia 60.7
3 South Korea 59.5
4 Slovenia 58.9
5 Portugal 54.0
6 Barbados 50.3
7 Japan 49.1
8 Serbia 49.0
9 Moldova 47.3
10 Norway 46.9
11= Denmark 45.9
11= Croatia 45.9
13 Netherlands 45.3
14 Spain 45.2
15= Uruguay 43.8
15= Belgium 43.8
17 Brunei 43.4
18 Latvia 42.6
19 Czech Republic 42.5
20 Ireland 42.4

Colorectal cancer rates in women

Norway had the highest rate of colorectal cancer in women in 2018, followed by Hungary.

Rank Country Age-standardised rate per 100,000
1 Norway 39.3
2 Hungary 36.8
3 Denmark 36.6
4 Singapore 34.0
5 Australia 32.4
6 South Korea 31.3
7 Slovakia 31.2
8 Netherlands 31.1
9 New Zealand 30.8
10 Japan 29.6
11 Barbados 28.8
12 Portugal 28.7
13 Uruguay 28.3
14 Jamaica 28.2
15= Canada 28.0
15= Belgium 28.0
17 Latvia 27.7
18 Brunei 27.4
19 UK 27.0
20 Ireland 26.4