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 certain 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 factors remain family history and older age. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and family history and ask about when to schedule a colorectal cancer screening.
Source: National Cancer Institute