What is Colorectal Cancer? (Rectal Cancer Colon Cancer) Definition

Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last several inches of the colon and is also part of the large intestine. Together, they are referred to as colorectal cancer. This form of cancer is common in both women and men.

Most colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas, meaning that they 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 can become cancerous over time. Finding and removing polyps can prevent colorectal cancer. Polyps may be small and may not show any symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screening tests to help prevent colon cancer by identifying and removing polyps before they become colon cancer.

Two primary types of polyps:

  • Adenomatous polyps (adenomas): These polyps sometimes change into cancer. Because of this, adenomas are called a pre-cancerous condition.
  • Hyperplastic polyps and inflammatory polyps: These polyps are more common, but in general they are not pre-cancerous.

According to the National Cancer Institute, colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in men and women in the United States.


Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

According to the Mayo Clinic, possible signs and symptoms of colon cancer can include:

Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool that lasts longer than four weeks
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Abdominal discomfort which is persistent, such as cramps, gas or pain
  • A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty
  • Stools that are narrower than usual
  • Vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss

Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms appear, they’ll likely vary, depending on the cancer’s size and location in your large intestine.


What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure which allows doctors to look inside the rectum and colon for polyps, abnormal areas, or cancer. In the procedure, a colonoscope is inserted through the rectum into the colon. A colonoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove polyps or tissue samples, which are checked under a microscope for signs of cancer.

See below for updated news and information regarding Colorectal Cancer including new medical research, treatments and advancements. 

Colorectal Cancer News

Virginia Tech researchers help the body protect itself against inflammation and colon cancer

(SOURCE: VIRGINIA TECH) - Could inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer be prevented by changing the shape of a single protein? There is an intimate link between uncontrolled inflammation in the gut associated with inflammatory bowel disease and the eventual development of colon cancer. This uncontrolled inflammation is associated with changes in bacteria populations in the gut, which can invade the ...
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Colorectal Cancer Research News: Enzyme Could Protect Against Type of Colorectal Cancer By Suppressing Tumors, Study Finds

(SOURCE: GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY) - An enzyme that plays an active role in inflammation could be a natural way to suppress tumors and ulcers in the colon that are found in colitis associated cancer (CAC), a type of colorectal cancer that is driven by chronic inflammation, according to a new study. Researchers at Georgia State University and Stony Brook University ...
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Colorectal Cancer Treatment News: Colorectal cancer prevention: A proven benefit of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

(SOURCE: MAYO CLINIC) -  Mayo Clinic researchers and a team of collaborating scientists from across the country have determined the comparative effectiveness of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aspirin and several supplements in preventing the recurrence of advanced neoplasia (polyps that are the precursor of colorectal cancer) after polyp removal. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, colorectal cancer is the ...
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Colon Cancer Research: Loss of ARID1A protein drives onset and progress of colon cancer

(SOURCE: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital) - St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital researchers and collaborators reveal how a tumor-suppressing protein interacts with genetic enhancers to silence cancer genes in a newly developed model system. A team of scientists has developed a model system in mice that allows them to look closely at how a protein often mutated in human cancer exerts its ...
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Colon Cancer Research News: Mystery molecule is a key to inhibiting colon cancer

(SOURCE: ST. JUDE CHILDREN'S RESEARCH HOSPITAL) - St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists tracking the protective role of the protein called NLRC3 have discovered multiple targets for drugs to switch on the cell’s machinery to thwart colon cancer. Immunologists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have discovered that a protein called NLRC3 plays a central role in inhibiting colon cells from ...
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Colorectal Cancer News: 4-week prehabilitation prepares cancer patients for surgery

(SOURCE: McGill University) - Just four weeks of prehabilitation (pre-surgery preparation) may be enough to help some cancer patients get in shape for surgery. That’s according to a recent study of close to 120 colorectal cancer patients in Montreal. This potentially means that, barring unforeseen circumstances that stem from the surgery itself, their recovery is likely to be speedier too, according ...
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Cancer News: Researchers Discover Method to Block Certain Cancer Genetic Mutations

(UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT CHICAGO) According to a recent press release, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have identified a new way to block the action of genetic mutations found in nearly 30 percent of all cancers ...
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Colon Cancer News: Research Shows TASINs as Viable Potential Target for Colon Cancer Therapies

(UT SOUTHWESTERN MEDICAL CENTER) According to a recent press release, a small molecule called TASIN-1 can selectively kill cells with a mutation that is considered to be a precursor to colon cancer, while sparing related normal cells, UT Southwestern Medical Center cancer biologists have demonstrated ...
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Colon Cancer News: Left-sided Primary Tumor Location Associated with Reduced Risk of Death

(THE JAMA NETWORK JOURNALS) According to a recent press release, a new report published online by JAMA Oncology reviewed medical literature to examine the prognostic role of a primary colon cancer tumor being located on the left vs. right side ...
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Researchers uncover Strategy to Block Growth of Colon Cancer Cells Caused by Mutant KRAS Gene

(BOSTON UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER) According to a recent press release, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have discovered a possible strategy to treat colon cancers that are caused by the mutant KRAS gene, which is responsible for approximately half of all colon cancer cases ...
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