Cancer is an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the body. “Colorectal” refers to the colon and rectum, which together make up the large intestine. Colorectal cancer can originate anywhere in the large intestines. The majority of colorectal cancers develop first as polyps, abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may become cancerous.
The second leading cancer killer in the United States, colorectal cancer is most common in men and women aged 50 years and older and the risk increases with age, with 93% of cases diagnosed in people 50 or older.
Colorectal cancer develops with few, if any, symptoms at first. However, if symptoms are present, they may include the following:
- Blood in or on the stool
- A change in bowel habits
- Stools that are narrower than usual
- General, unexplained stomach discomfort
- Frequent gas, pains, or indigestion
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chronic fatigue
If you have any of these symptoms, discuss them with your doctor. Screening is the best way to find polyps before they become cancerous. Screening can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment can be most effective.
Source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion (CDC)