Colon Cancer (Colorectal Cancer)

  • Medical Author:
    Francis W. Nugent, MD

    Dr. F.W. Nugent is a medical oncologist specializing in gastrointestinal cancers with a special interest in pancreatic cancer. Dr. Nugent graduated from Middlebury College with a bachelors degree in religion before graduating from Albany Medical College. He presently serves as vice-chairman of medical oncology at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Massachusetts.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

View Colorectal (Colon) Cancer Slideshow Pictures

Colon Cancer Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of colon cancer tend not to be specific. In other words, the signs and symptoms can occur due to a number of different conditions. When colon cancer is detected in its early stages, it may not have even caused symptoms. Symptoms can also vary according to the specific location within the colon where the tumor is located.

Some symptoms and signs of colon cancer are:

  • rectal bleeding or blood in the stool,
  • dark-colored stool,
  • change in bowel habits,
  • change in stool consistency,
  • constipation,
  • diarrhea,
  • narrow stools.
Picture of Colon Cancer

Quick GuideColorectal Cancer (Colon Cancer): Symptoms, Signs, Screening, Stages, and Treatment Options

Colorectal Cancer (Colon Cancer): Symptoms, Signs, Screening, Stages, and Treatment Options

Colon cancer facts

  • Colorectal cancer is a malignant tumor arising from the inner wall of the large intestine.
  • Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer in males and fourth in females in the U.S.
  • Risk factors for colorectal cancer include a family history of colorectal cancer, colon polyps, and long-standing ulcerative colitis.
  • Most colorectal cancers develop from polyps. Removal of colon polyps can prevent colorectal cancer.
  • Colon polyps and early cancer may have no symptoms. Therefore regular screening is important.
  • Diagnosis of colorectal cancer can be made by sigmoidoscopy or by colonoscopy with biopsy confirmation of cancer tissue.
  • Treatment of colorectal cancer depends on the location, size, and extent of cancer spread, as well as the health of the patient.
  • Surgery is the most common treatment for colorectal cancer.
  • Chemotherapy can extend life and improve quality of life for those who have had or are living with metastatic colorectal cancer. It can also reduce the risk of recurrence in patients found to have high-risk colon cancer findings at surgery.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/23/2016

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