Colorectal Cancer

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Colorectal cancer refers to cancer that starts in the colon or the rectum. Cancer in both areas can be referred to separately, depending on where the cancer begins. Both cancers have many common features.

  • Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the U.S., excluding skin cancers.
  • An estimated 93,000 new cases of colon cancer and 40,000 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2015 in the U.S.
  • Approximately 50,000 deaths from colorectal cancer are expected in 2015.

Source: American Cancer Society

Signs and Symptoms:

Important warning signs and symptoms of colon or rectal cancer include:

  • A change in bowel habits
  • Blood (either bright red or very dark) in the stool
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
  • Stools that are narrower than usual
  • General abdominal discomfort (frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, or cramps)
  • Weight loss with no known reason
  • Constant tiredness or anemia that cannot be explained.
  • Vomiting


Colon and rectal cancer can be prevented. By finding and removing precancerous polyps that can develop into cancer, colorectal cancer can be stopped before it ever starts. In addition, screening can detect colorectal cancer early when it is most curable. All adults over the age of 50 are at risk for colorectal cancer and should be screened for precancerous polyps and cancer. Some people have a greater than average risk and should work with their doctor to develop an individualized screening plan.

While screening is the most important way to prevent colorectal cancer, lifestyle changes such as not smoking, increasing physical activity, maintaining a healthy body weight, reducing red meat and processed meat intake, and using alcohol in moderation.

While more than 90 percent of colon and rectal cancers are found in people over the age of 50, anyone at any age can get colorectal cancer. People younger than 50 need to protect themselves by knowing their family cancer history and their own medical history. Source: Colorectal Cancer Coalition

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