Several decades ago, colorectal cancer was infrequently diagnosed. Nowadays, it is the world's fourth most deadly cancer with almost 900 000 deaths annually. Besides an ageing population and dietary habits of high-income countries, unfavourable risk factors such as obesity, lack of physical exercise, and smoking increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Advancements in pathophysiological understanding have increased the array of treatment options for local and advanced disease leading to individual treatment plans. Treatments include endoscopic and surgical local excision, downstaging preoperative radiotherapy and systemic therapy, extensive surgery for locoregional and metastatic disease, local ablative therapies for metastases, and palliative chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Although these new treatment options have doubled overall survival for advanced disease to 3 years, survival is still best for those with non-metastasised disease. As the disease only becomes symptomatic at an advanced stage, worldwide organised screening programmes are being implemented, which aim to increase early detection and reduce morbidity and mortality from colorectal cancer.
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