The 411 on Colorectal Cancer


Colorectal cancer, used to designate colon and rectal cancer, is the abnormal and uncontrollable division of cells in the colon or the rectum. Many cases of colorectal cancer start as polyps. A colon polyp is a flat or raised growth over the surface of the colon. While some polyps are benign, others are cancerous or can become cancerous. For example, flat polyps are more likely to be cancerous than raised polyps. They are also harder to see. Sadly, despite many technological advances, colorectal cancer is still the third deadliest cancer in the United States.


Screening is the most efficient way to detect colorectal cancer early. Early detection, in many cases, makes a difference between life and death. Who needs to be screened for colorectal cancer? People with a personal history of colorectal cancer, colon polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, and people with a family history of colon polyps and colorectal cancer should be screened before the age of 50. The rest of the population should be screened starting age 50 and older. A colonoscopy is one of many screening tests used. Talk to your doctor for information on the appropriate screening time and screening test for you.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5