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Colorectal cancer, cancer that begins in the colon or rectum, is a type of intestinal cancer and is the third most common type of cancer in the U.S. for both men and women. At Mercy, you’ll find a team of experts who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer, commonly called colon cancer, occurs when abnormal cells grow in the tissues of your colon or rectum. The disease usually begins as polyps—small growths of cells that could become cancerous. Polyps develop slowly and may not cause any symptoms. Most polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy, which helps reduce your risk of developing colon cancer.
Colorectal cancer has several types depending on where it’s located. The most common type - adenocarcinoma - develops in the lining of the large intestine. Other types of colon cancer can develop in different parts of the digestive tract and can affect your hormone production, immune system, nervous system, muscles and other tissues. These types are very rare.
More than 95% of colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas, which start in mucous-secreting cells in the lining of the colon and rectum. They often begin as polyps (also called adenomas), which can be removed during colonoscopies before they become cancer. Adenocarcinomas typically start in the inner lining of the large intestine but can spread to other layers.
While colorectal cancer isn’t generally hereditary, there are a small number of cases caused by gene mutations (changes) passed down in families. The two most common hereditary colorectal cancers are hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer and familial adenomatous polyposis. If you have a strong family history of colon cancer, especially in your first degree relatives please contact your Mercy primary care doctor to discuss genetic testing for colon cancer no matter your age.
While the exact cause of colon cancer is unknown, several factors can increase your risk of developing it. You can reduce some of these risk factors with diet and lifestyle changes.
Colon cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms, especially in the early stages. If you experience symptoms, they may include:
If you’re experiencing symptoms or have a higher risk for colorectal cancer, it can be overwhelming. Mercy has the expertise and support you need every step of the way.
Learn about colorectal cancer diagnosis & treatment options.
At Mercy, we offer comprehensive testing services to diagnose all types of colon and rectal cancer, including:
At Mercy, we offer compassionate care for a variety of colorectal cancer treatment services, including: