CALL US: (215) 402-0800

Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

What Is Colon and Rectal Cancer (Colorectal Cancer)?C¡ncer de colon y de recto (c¡ncer colorrectal)

What Is Colon and Rectal Cancer (Colorectal Cancer)?

Cancer occurs when cells in the body begin changing and multiplying out of control. These cells can form lumps of tissue called tumors. Cancer that forms in the colon is called colon cancer. Cancer that forms in the rectum is called rectal cancer. These cancers are also called colorectal cancer.

Understanding the Colon and Rectum

The colon (also called the large intestine or large bowel) is a muscular tube that forms the last part of the digestive tract. It absorbs water and stores food waste. The colon is about 4 to 6 feet long. The rectum is the last 6 inches of the colon. The colon and rectum have a smooth lining composed of millions of cells. Changes in these cells can lead to growths in the colon that can become cancerous and should be removed.

When the Colon Lining Changes

Changes that occur in the cells that line the colon or rectum can lead to growths called polyps. Over a period of years, polyps can turn cancerous. Removing polyps early may prevent cancer from ever forming.

  • Polyps are fleshy clumps of tissue that form on the lining of the colon or rectum. Small polyps are usually benign (not cancerous). However, over time, cells in a polyp can change and become cancerous. The larger a polyp grows, the more likely this is to happen. Also, certain types of polyps known as adenomatous polyps are considered premalignant. This means that they will almost always become cancerous if they're not removed.

  • Colorectal cancers usually start when polyp cells begin growing abnormally. As a cancerous tumor grows, it may involve more and more of the colon or rectum. In time, cancer can also grow beyond the colon or rectum and spread to nearby organs or to glands called lymph nodes. The cells can also travel to other parts of the body. This is known as metastasis. The earlier a cancerous tumor is removed, the better the chance of preventing its spread.

Treatment Options for Colon and Rectal Cancer

You and your healthcare provider will discuss a treatment plan that's best for your needs.

  • Surgery is often done to remove the cancerous parts of the colon and rectum. Some surrounding tissue is removed as well, possibly including nearby lymph nodes.

  • Chemotherapy may be done in addition to surgery. This therapy uses medications to attack cancer cells. It is considered systemic therapy because it works throughout the body. It's usually done as an outpatient procedure in a doctor's office, clinic, or hospital. You may receive the medication in pill form or through an IV line or infusion pump (a device that slowly releases medication into your bloodstream).

  • Radiation therapy may be done for rectal cancer. This treatment uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. It's considered localized therapy because it targets the specific area of the body affected by the cancer. It is usually performed on an outpatient basis in a hospital or radiation clinic.

Date Last Reviewed:

Date Last Modified: 2005-09-14T00:00:00-06:00

If you’re looking for advanced, comprehensive GI patient care, look to Hillmont GI. To schedule your appointment, call us at 215-402-0800. For your convenience, you can use our online form.

Patient Reviews

  • Dr. Robert Bailey

    Received good diagnosis, advice and guidance on possible treatment options. Overall excellent experience. - Rajesh Kumaran

  • Dr. Gerald Bertiger

    I was welcomed when i came in. The nurse who took my weight and blood pressure was kind and funny, and the Dr explained his plan step by step. Outside of the wait well past my appointment time, everything was very good. - Susan McDonnell

  • Dr. Robert Boynton

    Very efficient staff, friendly and professional. Dr. Boynton very comforting and professional. Nice visit. - Dawn Craven

  • Tanya Carter, MSN, CRNP

    Scheduling was easy, i was taken immediately and the staff were professional. - Denise Nuccio

  • Dr. Steven Nack

    I have been a long time patient of Dr. Nack. He has been nothing but professional and caring in his treatment and time with me. His insight and knowledge over all these years has been fantastic! - david schultz

  • Dr. Benjamin Raile

    I was able to get an appt quickly and i had no wait time. The nursing staff was excellent and very friendly. The physician was prepared with documentation and made recommendations for treatment and follow up. - Melissa Iatarola

  • Dr. Leonardo Salese

    I was welcomed right away and called back after only a couple minutes in the waiting room. The doctor was prompt and friendly. Scheduling a follow-up test was quick and easy. Thank you.- Courtney Panachyda

  • Victoria Scheibel, MHS, PA-C

    I felt it was very through and that my concerns were addressed. - Lori Trivelli

  • DR. JAMES TATERKA

    Dr Taterka and his staff are awesome! - Vicky Mccoach

Read More

Contact Us

Hillmont G.I.: Flourtown Office
1811 Bethlehem Pike Bldg C-300
Flourtown Commons
,
Flourtown PA 19031
Phone: (215) 402-0800
Fax: (215) 836-2429
View driving directions

Hillmont G.I.: Lansdale Office
125 Medical Campus Drive
Medical Arts Building, Suite 104
,
Lansdale PA 19446
Phone: (215) 402-0800
Fax: (215) 997-8891
View driving directions

Springfield Ambulatory Surgery Center
1528 Bethlehem Pike,
Flourtown PA 19031
Phone: (215) 402-0600
Fax: (215) 402 - 0604
View driving directions