Colon and Rectal Cancer

What is colon and rectal cancer? It is cancer that starts in the large intestine (colon) or the passageway (rectum) that leads from the colon to the anus. Most colon and rectal cancers begin as non-cancerous polyps that form on the inner-lining of the intestine.  Over time, some of these polyps can become colon or rectum cancers.  Screenings can help detect polyps before they become cancerous. The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women begin colorectal screening at age 50.

How often does it occur? Colon and rectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States.

Are there different types of colon and rectal cancer? Yes, there are several, including:

  • Adenocarcinomas are the most common, making up more than 90 percent of colon and rectal cancer cases. Adenocarcinomas start in cells that form glands that make mucus to lubricate the inside of the colon and rectum.
  • Carcinoid tumors start from specialized hormone-producing cells in the intestine.
  • Gastrointestinal stromal (GIST) tumors start from specialized cells in the wall of the colon.

What does University of Minnesota Physicians Cancer Care offer? Our gastrointestinal cancer team is made up of experts in diagnosing and treating common to complex colon and rectal cancer cases. We expertly treat hundreds of colon and rectal cancer patients each year.

Cancer Info

To learn more about screening, diagnosis, treatment options and after treatment care, please use the links below to find more information from the National Cancer Institute.

Whatever your age, call your health care provider right away if you notice:

  • Rectal bleeding, or blood in your stool
  • Stools that change significantly in size and color
  • A change in your bowel movements, especially if you have alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea
  • Pain in your lower abdomen that doesn’t go away or that returns often
  • A feeling of discomfort or the urge to move your bowels when there is no stool present

Doctors and Providers