2016-06-16 17:20:44 UTC

Colorectal Cancer (CRC) 101: What is Colorectal Cancer?

View PDF Copy PDF Link

 

 

  • Colorectal cancer (also known as colon cancer) is cancer of the colon and/or rectum and occurs when a growth in the lining of the colon or rectum becomes cancerous
  • The colon is a vital organ in your body’s digestive system. The rectum is the very end of the colon. The colon and rectum, known as the large intestine, is a long, thick tube that:
    • Takes in water and minerals from digested food. 
    • Stores undigested solid waste. 
  • Most colorectal cancers come from precancerous polyps — adenomatous polyps or serrated polyps — that form over a number of years (five to 10) to become a cancer. 
    • A polyp is a mushroom-like or flat growth on the inside wall of the colon or rectum. Polyps grow slowly over many years. 
  • Not all colon polyps have the same risk of turning into colon cancer. Precancerous polyps could become cancerous; other types of polyps (hyperplastic, inflammatory) do not. 
  • If caught early before any symptoms arise, surgery can cure colorectal cancer. Finding colorectal cancer early leads to easier treatments and higher survival rates.

 

Who Gets Colorectal Cancer?

 

  • As of 2015, colorectal cancer is the third-most common cause of cancer in both men and women. It is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.
  • While men and women have the same lifetime risk for CRC, men are at higher risk than women at any given age
  • Many people do not get polyps until after the age of 50. 
  • People with a higher risk of getting colorectal cancer often get polyps before the age of 50. 
  • To lower the chance of colorectal cancer, it is vital to get screened at the right time.
    • If you are at average risk, start screening at age 50.
    • If you think you might be at high risk for colorectal cancer, talk to your doctor early, before age 50, to make a screening plan that’s right for you.

 

Colon Cancer Screening Can Save Your Life

 

  • With routine colorectal cancer screening, more than one-third of colorectal cancer deaths can be avoided.
  • Many tests can help find precancerous and cancerous growths. Finding them early could save your life.
  • Colorectal cancer screening is safe and effective.
  • Finding and getting rid of colon polyps prevents colon cancer, no matter what your risk is.
  • With simple steps, you can lower your risk of getting the disease. Talk to a gastroenterologist.

 

Check out AGA’s informative videos on colorectal cancer screening. Learn about why it’s important to get screened, screening options and tips to ensure a high-quality colonoscopy.

 

 

© AGA, September 2017

©AGA, July 2016

More on Colorectal Cancer

Funding for Colorectal Cancer Research

Nov. 15, 2017

NCI is offering $3 million in research funding for colorectal cancer screening research.

What to Make of Colorectal Cancer in Patients Younger Than 50?

Nov. 9, 2017

Most cases of colorectal cancer (CRC) in young adults seem to “just happen.” Best opportunity to prevent CRC death is prompt evaluation and early diagnosis.

Important Opportunity to Advise CMS on Colonoscopy Episode

Oct. 26, 2017

It is critical that you share your feedback with CMS by Wednesday, Nov. 15.