Cancer of the colon, rectum, appendix and anus — known as colorectal cancer — develops in the tissues of the large intestine. This group of cancers is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in North America and affects men and women equally. Fortunately, with screening, the majority of colorectal cancers can be prevented or detected while still treatable.
If several members of your family been diagnosed with colon cancer, you may be at risk for a hereditary form of cancer. See your doctor to discuss screening and preventive measures.
The colon makes up the last six feet of the large intestines and absorbs water, electrolytes and nutrients from food and transports them into the bloodstream.
Colon cancer is fairly common, affecting about 7 percent of the North American population. Although it is a life-threatening disease, it is a highly curable form of cancer if found early. Regular check-ups and screenings are very important.
Although the exact cause of colon cancer is unknown, certain risk factors have been identified that may increase your chance of developing the disease. These include:
Common signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:
The treatment depends on the staging of the cancer. When colorectal cancer is caught at early stages (with little spread) it can be curable. However, when it is detected at later stages (when distant metastases are present) it is less likely to be curable. Surgery remains the primary treatment while chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy may be recommended depending on the individual patient's staging and other medical factors.