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Colorectal cancer types

Almost all cancers found in the colon and the rectum are adenocarcinomas. Less common types of colorectal cancer include primary colorectal lymphomas, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, leiomyosarcomas, carcinoid tumors and melanomas.

Every colorectal cancer patient's case is unique. The cancer experts at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) have extensive experience in identifying, staging and diagnosing the disease and developing a treatment plan tailored to your specific type of cancer.

colorectal cancer types

Colorectal adenocarcinoma

"Adeno" is a prefix meaning glands. "Carcinoma" is a type of cancer that grows in epithelial cells that line the surfaces inside and outside the body. Colorectal adenocarcinomas develop in the lining of the colon or rectum, which make up the large intestine. They tend to start in the inner lining and then spread to other layers.

There are two less common subtypes of adenocarcinoma:

  • Mucinous adenocarcinoma is made up of approximately 60 percent mucus. The mucus may cause cancer cells to spread more quickly and become more aggressive than typical adenocarcinomas. Mucinous adenocarcinomas account for 10 percent to 15 percent of all colon and rectal adenocarcinomas.
  • Signet ring cell adenocarcinoma accounts for less than 1 percent of adenocarcinomas. Named for its appearance under a microscope, signet ring cell adenocarcinoma is typically aggressive and may be more difficult to treat.

Colorectal adenocarcinoma treatment options

The most common form of colorectal adenocarcinoma treatment is surgery. Other treatments include chemotherapy, targeted therapy and radiation therapy.

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Why nutrition matters

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Our experts answer questions about nutritional needs for people with cancer.