Colon Cancer: What You Need to Know
- If detected early, cancer of the colon and rectum is one of the most curable types of gastrointestinal cancer.
- Adults should begin regular screening at age 50. You may start screening earlier if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or if you are age 45 (or older) and of African-American or Eastern European Jewish descent.
- Tests for colon and rectal cancer screening and diagnosis include the following: fecal occult blood test, barium enema, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, virtual colonoscopy and stool DNA test.
- If a polyp is found, your doctor will monitor you closely. Some polyps could become cancerous if left untreated.
- Some forms of colorectal cancer are hereditary.
Colon Cancer Overview
The colon and rectum make up the large intestine of the digestive system. The colon is the upper five feet of the large intestine. The final six inches of the digestive tract is called the rectum.
Colon and rectal cancers occur when the cells that line the colon or rectum become abnormal and grow out of control. This cell growth may interfere with the function of these organs and surrounding tissue and organs.
Excluding skin cancers, colon and rectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States. Several diagnostic and screening tests allow for early detection and treatment. If detected early, colon and rectal cancers are highly treatable and often curable.
Patients with colon and rectal cancers benefit from working with physicians who specialize in treating colon and rectal cancers as part of a team of multidisciplinary professionals. This team works together to review and manage patient care, including tumor analysis and disease staging.
Colon Cancer Prevention
There’s no secret to colon and rectal cancer prevention. However, your body weight, food choices and exercise habits impact your risk of developing colon cancer and rectal cancer.
Learn more about colon and rectal cancer prevention.
Colon Cancer Symptoms
Colon and rectal cancers do not usually produce symptoms in the early stages of disease. As the tumor grows, symptoms will develop depending on the location of the primary tumor within the intestine.
Learn more about colon and rectal cancer symptoms.
Colon Cancer Diagnosis
Screening is vital for the early detection and successful treatment of colon and rectal cancers. Several screening and diagnostic tests are available. See your doctor for a custom screening schedule.
Learn more about colon and rectal cancer diagnosis.
Colon Cancer Survivorship
Colon and rectal cancers change your life in a number of ways. Following colon or rectal cancer treatment, you must cope with ongoing screening, side effects, emotional concerns and lifestyle changes.
Learn more about colon and rectal cancer survivorship.