Colon Cancer Treatment (Patient)
General Information About Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the colon.
The colon is part of the body's digestive system. The digestive system removes and processes nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water) from foods and helps pass waste material out of the body. The digestive system is made up of the esophagus, stomach, and the small and large intestines. The first 6 feet of the large intestine are called the large bowel or colon. The last 6 inches are the rectum and the anal canal. The anal canal ends at the anus (the opening of the large intestine to the outside of the body).
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors can occur in the colon. See the PDQ summary on Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors Treatment for more information.
See the PDQ summary about Unusual Cancers of Childhood for information about colorectal cancer in children.
Health history can affect the risk of developing colon cancer.
Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors include the following:
Possible signs of colon cancer include a change in bowel habits or blood in the stool.
These and other symptoms may be caused by colon cancer. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following problems:
Tests that examine the colon and rectum are used to detect (find) and diagnose colon cancer.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:
The prognosis also depends on the blood levels of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) before treatment begins. CEA is a substance in the blood that may be increased when cancer is present.
eMedicineHealth Public Information from the National Cancer Institute
This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http://cancer.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER
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