The colon is what we commonly call the last six feet of the intestines, leading from the small intestine to the rectum (see Figure 1). The colon is sometimes referred to as the large intestine. The last part of the large intestine is the rectum.
Colon or colorectal cancer (terms that can be used interchangeably) is a cancer of the cells lining the colon. Almost all cases of colorectal cancer begin with the development of benign (non-cancerous) polyps. These polyps can become cancerous, invading the colon wall and surrounding blood vessels and spreading to other parts of the body. There are virtually no symptoms in the early stages, when the disease is most treatable, which is why regular screening is important.
This article on colorectal cancer has been compiled from materials provided by the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada, www.ccac-accc.ca.
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