Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, is a cancer of the large intestine or the rectum. The large intestine is the last section of the digestive tract and consists of the colon and rectum. The colon is four to six feet long, and the last seven to nine inches of it is called the rectum. Colon cancers develop from adenomatous polyps (also called “adenomas”) that grow larger and eventually transform into cancer.

The diagnosis Colon Cancer written on a clipboard

This disease is not only highly beatable and treatable, but also highly preventable. Regular screening and removal of polyps can reduce colorectal cancer risk by up to 90%. Unfortunately, fear, denial and embarrassment keep many people from being screened.


RISK FACTORS personal history, hereditary, age, race, diet, lifestyle
SYMPTOMS changes in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation or narrow stools for more than a few days), urgency for a bowel movement or feeling like you need to move your bowels even if you just did, blood in the stool, stomach pain, weakness and/or fatigue
SCREENINGS recommended for at-risk men and women over age 50 ANNUALLY

  • fecal occult blood test (FOBT) — detecting microscopic amounts of blood in stool
  • fecal immunochemical test (FIT) – similar to the FOBT, this test is more specific to finding blood coming from the lower gastrointestinal tract


  • flexible signoidoscopy – inspects rectum and lining of left colon with thin tube connected to light and camera
  • double contrast barium enema – injecting barium into colon for x-ray


  • colonoscopy – thin tube that allows examination of entire large intestine


STAGES Stage 0 – innermost lining of colon or rectum


Stage I – hasn’t spread beyond wall

Stage II – spread into muscle layer of colon or rectum

Stage III – spread to one or more lymph nodes

Stage IV – spread to other body parts


TREATMENT OPTIONS surgery, chemotherapy, radiation