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On this page you will find educational information about Colorectal Cancer.
Cancer is caused by malignant (cancerous) cells that grow and multiply without control. When cancer begins in the tissues of the colon, it is called colon cancer. When it forms in the tissues of the rectum, it is called rectal cancer. Because colon cancer and rectal cancer have many features in common, they are sometimes referred to together as colorectal cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), roughly 137,000 new cases of colorectal cancer were reported in the United States in 2014. The NCI adds that colorectal cancer claimed more than 50,000 lives in 2014, making it the "second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States."
Colon cancer symptoms may include:
Rectal cancer symptoms may include:
The symptoms of colorectal cancer may look similar to those associated with other medical conditions. Please consult your doctor if you notice any of the above symptoms.
Screening for cancer means testing for something abnormal before it gives you symptoms. This allows cancer to be found earlier. The earlier a cancer is found, the smaller—and more treatable—it is likely to be.
Tests commonly used to screen for colorectal cancer include:
The first step in diagnosing any disease is to complete a medical history and physical examination. If necessary, more tests and procedures are used to find and diagnose colorectal cancer. (As outlined above, several of these are also used for screening purposes.)
Following a diagnosis of colorectal cancer, further tests are done to determine the location or density of cancer cells. This process, known as staging, helps your doctor choose the best treatment for you. Imaging tests, surgery and X-rays are among the common approaches for staging colorectal cancer.
Stages of colorectal cancer range from Stage I (early-stage cancer) to Stage IV (cancer is advanced and has spread to other parts of the body, or metastatic colorectal cancer).
Your care team will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you. This plan will depend on many factors, including type and stage of colorectal cancer, your general health, and your treatment preferences.
Treatment may involve one or more of these options:
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