This content will no longer be available as of 10/11

Stay tuned for improvements we're making to our Health Information section.

Colon cancer - series

Normal anatomy

The colon, or large intestine, is a muscular tube that begins at the end of the small intestine and ends at the rectum. The colon absorbs water from liquid stool that is delivered to it from the small intestine.

Indication

Colon cancer is the third most common internal cancer in the United States. Risk factors include certain types of colonic polyps, inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis), and certain hereditary disorders. Obesity, lack of exercise, and poor diets also contribute to colon cancer.

Incision

The treatment of colon cancer depends on the stage of the disease. Stage I cancer is limited to the inner lining of the colon; stage II cancer involves the entire wall of the colon; stage III cancer has spread to the lymph nodes; stage IV cancer has spread to other organs (metastasized).

Procedure

Surgery is the main treatment for colon cancer, and removal of the involved colon is required. If the cancer is located near the rectum, a colostomy may be necessary. For stage I and II colon cancer, surgery is usually the only treatment. For stage III or IV colon cancer, chemotherapy is necessary after surgery. There is also some suggestion that chemotherapy may also be helpful in some selected stage II patients. Chemotherapy involves a course of drugs which are toxic to cancer cells.

Aftercare

Stage I and II colon cancer have very high cure rates (60 - 90%); lower cure rates are seen with stage III and IV colon cancer. To detect colon cancer early, when it is most curable, everyone over the age of 50 should have regular screening for colon cancer. Colonoscopy is the most accurate screening test.

Related Items


Related Encyclopedia
Colon cancer


Review Date: 5/14/2012

Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital.

A.D.A.M. qualityA.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorousstandards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information andservices. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorialpolicy, editorialprocess, and privacypolicy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch.)

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatmentof any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication ordistribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M.