Colon Cancer

Colorectal cancer is a disease in which cells in the colon or rectum become abnormal and divide without control, forming a mass called a tumor. Colorectal cancer cells may also invade and destroy the tissue around them. In addition, they may break away from the tumor and spread to form new tumors in other parts of the body.

Colon Cancer Screening

Regular screening, beginning at age 50, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for colorectal cancer using high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy beginning at age 50 and continuing until age 75.

Diagnosing Colon Cancer

If screening test results suggest cancer or symptoms are present, a doctor must find out whether they are due to cancer or some other cause. The physician will ask about personal and family medical history and give a physical exam. The patient may have one or more tests as a screening tool.

If tests show an abnormal area (such as a polyp), a biopsy to check for cancer cells may be necessary. Often, the abnormal tissue can be removed during a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.