Colon cancer forms in the tissues of the colon, the longest part of the large intestine. Most colon cancers are adenocarcinomas, meaning they begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids.
Rectal cancer forms in the tissues of the rectum, or the last several inches of the large intestine before the anus.
Estimated new cases and deaths from colon and rectal cancer in the United States each year:
- New cases: 112,340 (colon); 41,420 (rectal)
- Deaths: 52,180 (colon and rectal combined)
Most people with colon or rectal cancer survive the disease if it is detected and treated early. That is why it is important to see your primary care physician and discuss any symptoms you are having. There are regular tests to screen for colon and rectal cancer. These are usually performed in the hospital on an outpatient basis.
If you do not have a primary care physician, please call Memorial Medical Center’s Physician Referral Hotline at 231-845-2372.
A common symptom of colorectal cancer is a change in bowel habits. Symptoms include:
- Having diarrhea or constipation
- Feeling that your bowel does not empty completely
- Finding blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool
- Finding your stools are narrower than usual
- Frequently having gas pains or cramps, or feeling full or bloated
- Losing weight with no known reason
- Feeling very tired all the time
- Having nausea or vomiting
The choice of treatment depends mainly on the location of the tumor in the colon or rectum and the stage of the disease. Treatment for colon or rectal cancer may involve surgery, chemotherapy, biological therapy or radiation therapy. Some people have a combination of treatments. Rectal cancer sometimes is treated differently from colon cancer.