Colorectal Cancer: 5 Facts to Know

Many people have encountered Cancer in the course of their lives. They have questions about the disease. Cancer has a significant impact on society in the United States and across the world. Despite cancer’s impact, most people have very little knowledge of Cancer itself.

Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death among Black Americans in the United States(1), right behind heart disease.  Of the cancers that affect both men and women, Colorectal Cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States(2). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 51,516 people in the United States died from Colorectal Cancer, including 26,866 men and 24,650 women(3).

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Cancer can affect men and women of all ages, races, and ethnicities, but it does not affect all groups equally. For example, Black Americans(4) are more likely to die of cancer than people of any other race or ethnicity. In 2011, the age-adjusted death rate per 100,000 people for all types of cancer combined was 199 for Black Americans, 169 for whites, 112 for American Indians/Alaska Natives, 118 for Hispanics, and 106 for Asians/Pacific Islanders.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases. In all types of cancer, some of the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place. Cancer cells ignore signals that begin a process known as programmed cell death, which the body uses to get rid of unneeded cells. Another important difference between normal and cancer cells is that cancer cells are less specialized than normal cells. Normal cells mature into very distinct cell types with specific functions, like skin or liver cells.  Cancer cells do not. The lack of maturity of cancer cells is one reason that, unlike normal cells, cancer cells continue to divide without stopping.

In 2016, an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 595,690 people(5) will die from the disease.

Colorectal Cancer: 5 Facts to Know

Colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum.

What is Colon Cancer?

Colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum(6). Sometimes it is called colon cancer, for short. As the drawing shows, the colon is the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus.

Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. The colon and the rectum are parts of the large intestine, which is the lower part of the body’s digestive system. During digestion, food moves through the stomach and small intestine into the colon. The colon absorbs water and nutrients from the food and stores waste matter (stool). Stool moves from the colon into the rectum before it leaves the body.

Most colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids). Colorectal cancer often begins as a growth called a polyp, which may form on the inner wall of the colon or rectum. Some polyps become cancer over time. Finding and removing polyps can prevent colorectal cancer.

Screening tests(7) can find polyps so they can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find Colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment often leads to a cure.

Five Facts to Know about Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer: 5 Facts to Know

Colorectal Cancer is the second leading cancer killer of both men and women in the United States.

  1.  Black people had the highest rate of getting colorectal cancer(8)
  2. The risk of getting colorectal cancer increases with age and is greater in men than in women(9).
  3. There’s a downward trend in Colorectal Cancer among Americans (2002 – 2011(10))
  4. Colorectal Cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women(11).
  5. Risk increases with age. More than 90% of colorectal cancers occur in people aged 50 and older(12).
  6. CDC’s Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign(13) informs men and women aged 50 years and older about the importance of having regular colorectal cancer screening tests.

Jay Harold knows the pain and suffering caused by Colorectal Cancer. Hopefully, this information will help relieve some anxiety and stress associated with Colorectal cancer.

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