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Find answers to commonly asked questions about colorectal cancer, including common causes, risk factors, progression, prevention and other helpful information.
Most cases of colorectal cancer aren’t hereditary, but a small portion is 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.
Also known as Lynch syndrome or cancer family syndrome, HNPCC refers to colon cancer when very few or no polyps are found. This type of colon cancer often appears on the right side of the colon and occurs at a younger age than non-hereditary colon cancers.
This rare type of colon cancer is caused by inherited changes in a gene that controls cell growth. FAP is characterized by hundreds or thousands of colon polyps, sometimes appearing in the teenage years.
Colorectal cancer usually begins as small polyps, which can take 10-15 years to become cancer and may not cause symptoms. Regular colorectal cancer screenings help doctors find and remove these polyps before cancer has a chance to grow.
When colorectal cancer is found early, it can often be cured. The American Cancer Society estimates the five-year survival rate at 90% for early-stage colorectal cancers.
No cancer is 100% preventable, but several risk factors for colorectal cancer are within your control. You can reduce your risk of colon cancer by:
Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most common type of cancer in the U.S. for men and women and the 2nd most common cause of cancer death. An estimated 1 in 20 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer annually.
Colorectal cancer cells can travel through the blood or lymph system to other parts of the body. When it spreads, it typically affects the liver, lungs and brain.
In the early stages, colorectal cancer might not cause pain or any other symptoms. In more advanced stages, cramping or abdominal pain can be a symptom of colorectal cancer.
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