Colorectal cancer refers to cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. The colon is a six-foot muscular tube that connects the small intestine to the rectum. The rectum, the lower six inches of the digestive tract, holds stool before it leaves the body. These cancers occur when cells lining the colon or the rectum become abnormal and grow out of control.
Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death in the U.S.
Importance of Early Detection
Colorectal cancer can be effectively prevented with early detection and removal of polyps before they become malignant. Colorectal cancer screenings are crucial because many people in the early stages of the disease have no symptoms.
Colonoscopy, a procedure that screens for colorectal cancer, is offered at our Endoscopy Center. Additional diagnostic or treatment procedures may be done at the main hospital or the Bendheim Cancer Center.
Learn more about colorectal cancer:
Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer
Risk factors are traits that put people at greater risk of developing cancer. Most people who develop colorectal cancer have no known risk factors. But some traits do increase the likelihood of developing the disease:
- Age: People over age 50 are more at risk.
- Gender: Women are at greater risk of developing colon cancer, while men are more likely to develop rectal cancer.
- Polyps: A type of polyp known as adenoma is considered a precursor of colorectal cancer.
- Medical & Family History: Women with a history of ovarian, uterine or breast cancer, previous colorectal cancer patients, people with chronic inflammatory conditions of the colon (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), and those with a family history of colorectal cancer have an increased risk.
- Diet: A high-fat, high-calorie and low-fiber diet may be linked to a greater risk.
- Lifestyle: Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise and excess weight may be contributing factors.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes are at a 30 to 40 percent higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Ethnicity: Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi) have a higher rate of colon cancer.
Cancer Support Services
Greenwich Hospital offers a wide selection of private consultations, counseling and support groups for colorectal cancer patients and their loved ones.
See Support Services