What is Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. The colon and the rectum are parts of the large intestine, which is the lower part of the body’s digestive system. During digestion, food moves through the stomach and small intestine into the colon. The colon absorbs water and nutrients from the food and stores waste matter (stool). Stool moves from the colon into the rectum before it leaves the body.
Most colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids). Colorectal cancer often begins as a growth called a polyp, which may form on the inner wall of the colon or rectum. Some polyps become cancer over time. Finding and removing polyps can prevent colorectal cancer.<>
People who smoke have an increased risk of bladder cancer. Being exposed to certain chemicals and having chronic bladder infections can also increase the risk of bladder cancer.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in men and women in the United States. Deaths from colorectal cancer have decreased with the use of colonoscopies and fecal occult blood tests, which check for blood in the stool.
A Snapshot of Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third most common non-skin cancer in both men and women. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States. Over the past decade, colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates have decreased in all racial/ethnic populations except American Indians/Alaska Natives. Men and women have similar incidence rates through age 39; at and above age 40, rates are higher in men.
Differences exist between racial/ethnic groups in both incidence and mortality. African Americans have higher mortality rates than all other racial/ethnic groups and higher incidence rates than all except American Indians/Alaska Natives. Incidence and mortality rates are lowest among Hispanics and Asians/Pacific Islanders. Overall colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates have been declining over the past two decades; these declines have been attributed largely to increased use of screening tests.
Risk factors for colorectal cancer include increasing age, colorectal polyps, a family history of colorectal cancer, certain genetic mutations, excessive alcohol use, obesity, being physically inactive, cigarette smoking, and a history of inflammatory bowel disease. Effective colorectal cancer screening tests include the fecal occult blood test, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy. Standard treatments for colorectal cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, cryosurgery, radiofrequency ablation, and targeted therapy.