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Colorectal cancer information

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is cancer that develops in the tissues of the colon and/or rectum. The colon and the rectum are both found in the lower part of the gastrointestinal (digestive) system. They form a long, muscular tube called the large intestine (or large bowel). The colon absorbs food and water and stores waste. The rectum is responsible for passing waste from the body.

If the cancer began in the colon, which is the first four to five feet of the large intestine, it may be referred to as colon cancer. If the cancer began in the rectum, which is the last several inches of the large intestine leading to the anus, it is called rectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer starts in the inner lining of the colon and/or rectum, slowly growing through some or all of its layers. It typically starts as a growth of tissue called a polyp. A particular type of polyp, called an adenoma, can then develop into cancer.

Colorectal cancer incidence

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common form of cancer (or third, excluding skin cancers) in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that 134,490 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2016.

How colorectal cancer develops

Video: How Colon Cancer Develops

Knowing how colon cancer develops is an important first step in identify your appropriate colon cancer treatment plan. Learn more about colon cancer by watching this medical animation.

How colorectal cancer is diagnosed

Video: Diagnosing Colon Cancer

Following up on colon cancer symptoms can lead to an early diagnosis and better treatment results. Learn how colon cancer is diagnosed so advanced treatment can begin.
Types of colorectal cancer

Learn about different types of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer symptoms

Read about common colorectal cancer symptoms.

Colorectal cancer risk factors

Read about common risk factors for colorectal cancer.

Stages of colorectal cancer

Learn about the stages of colorectal cancer.

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We understand you may be feeling overwhelmed with questions and concerns about your type of cancer and what it all means. We're here to help guide you through the process.

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