Colorectal cancer

About colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer happens when cells in your colon or rectum grow abnormally and out of control. The cancer cells can possibly spread to other parts of your body. This cancer is also called colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where the cancer is. It is most common in people older than 50 although can happen at younger ages especially for people who have relatives who have developed colon cancer.

Treatment works best when the cancer is found early. Regular screening tests can help find cancer that is still in its early stages and hasn't spread yet or detect something that may develop into cancer in the future (for example, a colon polyp). Your healthcare provider can help determine the screening that is best for you. If you do not have a primary care physician, click here to search for one near you.

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Risk and prevention

Learn about factors that affect your chances of getting colorectal cancer

Signs and symptoms

Know what to look for when monitoring for colorectal cancer

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Detection and treatment

Understand how colorectal cancer is diagnosed and treated

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Understanding colorectal cancer

Do I have to get a colonoscopy to test for cancer?

A colonoscopy is just one of many screening and testing options, including some that can be done at home. Your provider will help determine the best option for you. 

When should I start getting tested for colorectal cancer?

Some experts say screenings should start at age 45. However, other factors affect your chances of getting colorectal cancer, including race and family history. Talk to your doctor about what's best for you.


What are the signs of colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer usually doesn't cause any symptoms in its early stages. Symptoms may occur later, when the cancer may be harder to treat. That's why regular screenings are so important.

Aside from regular screenings, when should I call my doctor?

Watch closely for changes in your health and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any changes in your bowel habits.