Colorectal Cancer

What is Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer occurs when abnormal cells develop and divide in the colon or rectum forming a mass called a tumor. Colorectal cancer usually starts from polyps, an abnormal growth. If the colorectal cancer can be caught at this early stage, small cancerous growths or tumors are easy to remove. If the tumors go undetected for a period of time they grow and will eventually spread to other parts of the body (called metastasis). Once colorectal cancer spreads to other organs or metastasizes, a complete cure of the cancer is unlikely.

Why would a patient need an annual test?

  • Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide.
  • Approximately 75% of colorectal cancer occurs in people with no known risk factors.
  • Symptoms may not be present until years after the start of colorectal cancer.
  • Over half of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented with routine screening.
  • When diagnosed early enough, the 5-year survival rate for patients with colorectal cancer is greater than 90% but when detected in late, the 5-year survival rate is less than 10%.

Stages of Colorectal Cancer

Stage 0– Abnormal cells are found in the innermost lining of the colon.

Stage I – Abnormal cells have become cancerous and spread from the innermost tissue layer of the colon to the middle layer of the colon wall.

Stage II -Cancer has spread beyond the middle layer of the colon wall to nearby tissues or organs.

Stage III – Cancer has spread to the outer layer of the colon wall to nearby tissues or organs and to 3 or more lymph nodes.

Stage IV– Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and has spread to other parts of the body such as the liver or lungs.

Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer can be present for several years before any symptoms are noticed. Symptoms may vary depending on the location of the cancer growths in the colon or rectum. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, narrow stools, change in bowel habits, persistent diarrhea or constipation, red or dark blood in stool, weight loss, abdominal pain, cramps or bloating.

What are the risk factors of Colorectal Cancer?

No one knows what causes colorectal cancer. Studies have shown certain factors increase your risk of the disease.

  • Men and women of all ethnic backgrounds are at risk
  • People 50 years of age or older are at greater risk
  • Personal or family history of colorectal cancer and polyps
  • History of chronic ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis
  • A diet with high fat intake can lead to the formation of cancer-causing chemicals called carcinogens.
  • Smoking, especially over a long period of time
  • A sedentary lifestyle


Disclaimer: Content related to colorectal cancer is partially compiled from other sources, including but not limited to National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society. Readers are advised to discuss the above information with their physicians. Any electronic correspondence from EDP Biotech to the reader is in no way to be interpreted as medical advice or recommendations. If you have any symptoms, personal or family history or questions related to colorectal cancer you are encouraged to discuss them with your physician. Patients should act only upon the advice of his/her physician.

For more information on colorectal cancer visit the following sites:

National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov
American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org
Colon Cancer Alliance, www.ccalliance.org