Portions of this wite-up are quoted form " What You Need to Know about Cancer of the Colon and Rectum", By The National Cancer Institute.(http://my.webmd.com/content/dmk/dmk_article_5462309)

What Colorecal Cancer is the cancer of the colon and rectum, which consist of the final stages of the human digestive system. They are some of the most common concers in the united states. Other very common cancers are Breast Cancer and Lung Cancer. Dropping the objectve aspect for a while, it's also really gross to think about.

Types

Cancer is uncontrolled cell growth, which develope into tumors. There are two basic types of tumors:

  • Benign tumors are not cancer. They often can be removed and, in most cases, they do not come back. Cells in benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body. Most important, benign tumors are rarely a threat to life.
  • Malignant tumors are cancer. Cells in malignant tumors are abnormal and divide without control or order. These cancer cells can invade and destroy the tissue around them. Cancer cells can also break away from a malignant tumor. They may enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system (the tissues and organs that produce and store cells that fight infection and disease). This process, called metastasis, is how cancer spreads from the original (primary) tumor to form new (secondary) tumors in other parts of the body.

Risk Factors

A strong part of stopping cancer is prevention. As such, there is a great amount of research done in which factors put you more at risk for colorectal cancer.

  • Age. Colorectal cancer is more likely to occur as people get older. This disease is more common in people over the age of 50. However, colorectal cancer can occur at younger ages, even, in rare cases, in the teens.
  • Diet. Colorectal cancer seems to be associated with diets that are high in fat and calories and low in fiber. Researchers are exploring how these and other dietary factors play a role in the development of colorectal cancer.
  • Polyps. Polyps are benign growths on the inner wall of the colon and rectum. They are fairly common in people over age 50. Some types of polyps increase a person's risk of developing colorectal cancer. A rare, inherited condition, called familial polyposis, causes hundreds of polyps to form in the colon and rectum. Unless this condition is treated, familial polyposis is almost certain to lead to colorectal cancer.
  • Personal medical history. Research shows that women with a history of cancer of the ovary, uterus, or breast have a somewhat increased chance of developing colorectal cancer. Also, a person who has already had colorectal cancer may develop this disease a second time.
  • Family medical history. First-degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) of a person who has had colorectal cancer are somewhat more likely to develop this type of cancer themselves, especially if the relative had the cancer at a young age. If many family members have had colorectal cancer, the chances increase even more.
  • Ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is a condition in which the lining of the colon becomes inflamed. Having this condition increases a person's chance of developing colorectal cancer.
It should be noted that having one of these conditions doesn't mean you will get colorectal cancer. It just states that statistics show you are in a population group that developes it more often
Stages

The progrssion of the disease can be classified into several stages:

  • Stage 0. The cancer is very early. It is found only in the innermost lining of the colon or rectum.
  • Stage I. The cancer involves more of the inner wall of the colon or rectum.
  • Stage II. The cancer has spread outside the colon or rectum to nearby tissue, but not to the lymph nodes. (Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that are part of the body's immune system.)
  • Stage III. The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, but not to other parts of the body.
  • Stage IV. The cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Colorectal cancer tends to spread to the liver and/or lungs.
  • Recurrent. Recurrent cancer means the cancer has come back after treatment. The disease may recur in the colon or rectum or in another part of the body.

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