What is colon (colorectal) cancer?

  • Cancer is a disease process where abnormal cells grow and divide uncontrollably in the body.
  • Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is cancer that starts in the colon or rectum.
  • The colon and rectum are both parts of the digestive system. Specifically, they form the large intestine.

Who does colorectal cancer affect?

  • Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer among men and women and the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States.
  • Approximately 1 in 22 men and 1 in 24 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime.
  • 152,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 52,000 people die from colorectal cancer per year in the United States.
  • Colorectal cancer is most often diagnosed between the ages of 45 and 75.

How can I prevent colorectal cancer?

  • In most cases, people with early colorectal cancer do not have symptoms.
  • Screening tests are designed to find cancers before they cause symptoms.
  • Many colorectal cancers and deaths can be prevented by increasing the use of established screening tests.
  • Average risk: Adults at average risk of developing colorectal cancer should begin screening at age 45.
  • Higher risk: African-Americans are at higher risk. People with a family history of colorectal cancer should begin at age 40 or earlier.

Additional colorectal / colon cancer information