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Colon and Rectal Cancer Frequently Asked Questions

Colon and Rectal Cancer Frequently Asked Questions

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Colorectal Cancer: FAQs

  1. What is colorectal cancer?
    Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because they share a lot of common traits. Both begin with “polyps” or growths on the inner lining of either the colon or the rectum.
  2. What is the most common type of colorectal cancer?
    Most diagnoses of colorectal cancer are diagnoses of adenocarcinoma. This type of cancer starts in the cells that make the mucous that helps to line the colon and the rectum. According to the American Cancer Society, 96% of colorectal cancer cases fall into this category.
  3. What causes colorectal cancer?
    The American Cancer Society notes that more than other types of cancer, colorectal cancer can be traced to lifestyle choices. Obesity, smoking, lack of physical activity, and a diet that includes a lot of red meat (beef, pork, lamb, liver) can all contribute to the likelihood of colorectal cancer. Genetics and other factors can also play a role.
  4. Can I prevent Colon and Rectal Cancer?
    One of the best ways to help prevent this type of cancer is to get regular screenings (colonoscopies). If polyps are discovered during these screenings they can simply be removed, which means they will not have the chance to develop into cancerous cells.
    Knowing your genetic risk is also very important. If colon or rectal cancer is common in your family, this is something you should monitor carefully in your own body.
  5. What are signs I might have colorectal cancer?
    The American Cancer Society provides the following list of colorectal cancer signs and symptoms.
  6. What is the treatment for colorectal cancer?
    The treatment for colorectal cancer depends on the stage and type of the cancer, as well as the location. In some cases a colostomy or ileostomy may be necessary. In other cases you may need radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Our cancer services team, together with our surgery department and your multi-disciplinary team of specialists will discuss the best treatment options with you and your family.
  7. How common is colorectal cancer?
    According to the American Cancer Society

    • 104,610 new cases of colon cancer in 2020
    • 43,340 new cases of rectal cancer in 2020

    While colorectal cancer is still a significant health issue in the United States, the death rate has been falling, likely due in part to increased screenings. Early detection truly does save lives!