Type Colorectal Cancer

Type Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer, cancer of the large intestine, is the fourth most common cancer in North America, accounting for about 130,000 new American cancer cases and about 17,000 new Canadian cases of cancer each year. Many cases of colorectal cancer are associated with low levels of physical activity and with diets that are low in fruits and vegetables. Individuals with a family history of the disease have a higher risk. High rates of colorectal cancer are also found in people who have colorectal polyps, fleshy growths on the inside lining of the large intestine, and in those who have inflammatory bowel disease, a condition causing pain and inflammation of the small intestine and the colon.

The large intestine consists of the colon and the rectum. The colon is a muscular tube about 1.5 m (5 ft) long. Digestive wastes from the small intestine pass through the colon and the rectum before being expelled from the body. Over 95 percent of colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas, cancers of the glandular cells lining the inside of the colon and rectum. Other cancers of the large intestine, such as sarcomas, are much more rare.
Colorectal cancer usually develops slowly and may not produce noticeable symptoms in its early stages. Some individuals with undiagnosed colorectal cancer may detect blood in their feces. They may also experience persistent constipation or diarrhea, abdominal pain, or unexplained weight loss. Eventually the tumor may grow so large that it obstructs the intestine or causes it to rupture. In the United States the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is 60 percent, but it climbs to 90 percent if the cancer is detected early.

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