Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine, also known as the colon. Rectal cancer is cancer in the last few inches of the colon. Colon cancer and rectal cancer together are known as colorectal cancer.
Colon cancer and rectal cancer typically develop slowly over several years. Most colorectal cancers begin as a polyp, which is an abnormal growth of cells in the colon. Removing colon polyps early may prevent them from becoming cancer. It is important to have a regular colon cancer screening to detect and remove colon polyps before they become cancerous. Colorectal cancer is highly treatable and often a curable cancer when localized.
Men and women are almost equally affected by colon cancer. African Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk for colon cancer and are more likely to be diagnosed in the more advanced stages of cancer.
Hereditary colorectal cancer is passed between generations through an inherited mutated gene that causes cancer to develop at an early age. Although the majority of colorectal cancer cases are not hereditary, a strong family history of colorectal cancer on one side of the family greatly increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
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