Colon cancer is more commonly called colorectal cancer because the disorder most often affects both parts of the digestive tract, the colon and the rectum. It is one of the most common cancers found in the United States. The cause is unknown. In some people, the tendency to develop colon cancer may be inherited. Cancer is a disease in which the growth of abnormal cells, a tumor, leads to the destruction of healthy cells. If the tumor becomes invasive or aggressive, it may spread into the intestinal wall and to other sites, at which time the tumor is considered malignant.
Most malignant colon cancers and/or rectal cancers begin as apparently unthreatening (benign) growths (polyps) inside the colon or rectum. A colorectal polyp is a growth that projects (usually on a stalk) from the lining of the colon or rectum. Such polyps may become malignant although this is not always the case.
The symptoms of colorectal cancer may include changes in bowel habits, blood in the stools, constipation and/or diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and sometimes nausea. Surgery is generally performed to correct this type of cancer. It may be accompanied by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.
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