What is colorectal cancer? Colorectal cancer is a cancer that starts in the colon or the rectum. These cancers can also be named colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they start. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because they have many features in common.
How does colorectal cancer start? Most colorectal cancers begin as a growth on the inner lining of the colon or rectum called a polyp. Some types of polyps can change into cancer over the course of several years, but not all polyps become cancer. The chance of changing into a cancer depends on the kind of polyp. The 2 main types of polyps are:
• Adenomatous polyps (adenomas): These polyps sometimes change into cancer. Because of this, adenomas are called a pre-cancerous condition.
• Hyperplastic polyps and inflammatory polyps: These polyps are more common, but in general they are not pre-cancerous.
• Dysplasia, another pre-cancerous condition, is an area in a polyp or in the lining of the colon or rectum where the cells look abnormal (but not like true cancer cells).
Types of cancer in the colon and rectum:
• Adenocarcinomas make up more than 95% of colorectal cancers. These cancers start in cells that form glands that make mucus to lubricate the inside of the colon and rectum. When doctors talk about colorectal cancer, they are almost always talking about this type.
Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the US, but many colon cancers can be prevented with regular testing. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month – no better time to learn the facts about colon cancer and get tested. It could save your life.
The Shingletown Medical Center (SMC) is joining in on this worthy cause to save lives and stresses the importance of a colonoscopy for early colon cancer detection. A colonoscopy is the BEST form of early colon cancer screening, although some screening is better than none! SMC has Hemosure® collection test kits available. The one-step Hemosure (FIT), also called an immunochemical fecal occult blood test (iFOBT), is a newer kind of test that also detects occult (hidden) blood in the stool. This test reacts to part of the human hemoglobin protein, which is found in red blood cells.
Please call to make an appointment with your provider at SMC to discuss your medical history. Remember, getting screened could save your life.
For more information about colon cancer, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer.html