Colorectal Cancer Overview
Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, occurs in the colon or rectum. As the graphic below shows, the colon is the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus.
Colon cancer, when discovered early, is highly treatable. Even if it spreads into nearby lymph nodes, surgical treatment followed by chemotherapy is highly successful. In the most difficult cases — when the cancer has metastasized to the liver, lungs or other sites — treatment can prolong and add to one’s quality of life.
Most colon cancers develop first as colorectal polyps, which are abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may later become cancerous.
Colon cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, and is most often found in people 50 years or older. It is the third most common cancer in the United States, behind only lung and prostate cancers in men and lung and breast cancers in women, and the second leading cause of cancer death.
In fact, it is estimated that in 2013, 50,830 people will die of colon cancer. But the truth is: it doesn't have to be this way. If everyone 50 years or older had a regular screening test, as many as 80% of deaths from colon cancer could be prevented. View more colon cancer statistics.
Colon cancer screening saves lives. Screening detects precancerous polyps and allows them to be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colon cancer at an early stage, when treatment often leads to a cure. So please, take control of your life and your health – if you’re turning 50 or are experiencing abnormal symptoms, GET SCREENED. And urge those you love to do the same.