This topic will tell you
about the early testing, diagnosis, and treatment of colorectal
cancer. If you want to learn about colorectal cancer that has
come back or has spread, see the topic
Colorectal Cancer, Metastatic or Recurrent. If you want to learn about anal cancer, see the topic Anal Cancer.
means that cells that aren't normal are growing in your
colon or rectum . These cells grow together and form polyps. Over time, some polyps can turn into cancer.
cancer is also called colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where the cancer is. It is the third most
common cancer in the United States. And it occurs most often in people older
The exact cause of
colorectal cancer is not known. Most cases begin as
small growths, or polyps, inside the colon or rectum.
Colon polyps are very common. If they are
found early, usually through routine screening tests, they can be removed
before they turn into cancer.
Colorectal cancer usually
doesn't cause symptoms until after it has started to spread. See your doctor if
you have any of these symptoms:
- Pain in your belly
- Blood in your
stool or very dark stools
- A change in your bowel habits, such as
more frequent stools or a feeling that your bowels are not emptying
If your doctor
thinks that you may have this cancer, you will need a test, called a
colonoscopy (say "koh-luh-NAW-skuh-pee"), that lets the doctor see the inside of
your entire colon and rectum. During this test, your doctor will remove polyps
or take tissue samples from any areas that don't look normal. The tissue will
be looked at under a microscope to see if it contains cancer.
Sometimes another test, such as a
sigmoidoscopy (say "sig-moy-DAW-skuh-pee"), is used to diagnose colorectal
Colorectal cancer is usually treated with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.