What You Need to Know

When colorectal cancer occurs, abnormal cells in the colon or rectum divide uncontrollably, eventually forming a malignant tumor.  Most colorectal cancers begin as a polyp, a growth in the tissue that lines the inner surface of the colon or rectum.  A polyp can be flat or raised.  Polyps are common in people over age 50 and most aren’t cancer.  A center type of polyp, an adenoma, may have a higher risk of developing into cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of non-skin cancer in both men and women. (For men, prostate cancer and lung cancer are higher; for women, it’s breast cancer and lung cancer.)  Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. after lung cancer. 

The good news: The rates of new colorectal cancer cases and deaths among adults age 50 and over are decreasing in the U.S. due to increased screening and a reduction in risk factors, such as smoking.  The major risk factor remain family history and ask about when to schedule a colorectal cancer screening.

Source: National Cancer institute