Cancer of the colon or rectum is often called colorectal cancer. The colon and the rectum are part of the large intestine, which is part of the digestive system.
Tumors found in the colon or rectum may be benign (noncancerous) growths of tissue (polyps) or malignant cancerous growths of tissue that may spread to other parts of the body.
Significance of colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The risk of colorectal cancer tends to increase after the age of 40.
Colorectal cancer prevention
Colorectal cancer can sometimes be associated with known risk factors for the disease. Many risk factors are modifiable though not all can be avoided.
DIET AND LIFESTYLE:
Diet appears to be associated with colorectal cancer risk. Among populations that consume a diet high in fat, protein, calories, alcohol, and meat (both red and white) and low in calcium and folate, colorectal cancer is more likely to develop than among populations that consume a low-fat, high-fiber diet. A diet low in vitamin D may also increase the risk of colorectal cancer. One study has found that a diet low in fat and high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables does not reduce the risk of colorectal cancer recurrence during a 3- to 4-year period. A diet high in saturated fat combined with a sedentary lifestyle may increase the risk of colorectal cancer. There is also evidence that smoking cigarettes may be associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
NONSTEROIDAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DRUGS:
Some studies have shown that the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.
The removal of polyps in the colon is felt to be the single most effective means of reducing the risk and possibly preventing colorectal cancer.