Learn Five Key Facts About Colon and Rectal Cancer


Comprising the longest part of the large bowel, the colon is a structure that plays a critical role in digestion. As the remains of food move through the colon, the last lingering nutrients and water are absorbed, and the waste then leaves the body through the rectum as stool. Cancer that grows in the colon or rectum is often grouped together as colorectal cancer.

As reported by the American Cancer Society, around 150,000 new occurrences of colorectal cancer are detected annually. Fortunately, colon cancer is easily detectable with a colonoscopy and, when caught early, the likelihood of beating it is very good. To find a colonoscopy doctor near you and get a colorectal cancer screening, please reach out to GastroArkansas in Little Rock, AR.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and GastroArkansas aims to present important information you should know about colorectal cancer to help keep you and your loved ones healthy. Read on to learn five key facts regarding colon and rectal cancer.

#1: Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer fatalities.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women and men combined. The American Cancer Society estimates that roughly 52,000 individuals will pass away from colorectal cancer in 2022. Due to standard colorectal cancer screenings and colorectal cancer awareness across the nation, colorectal cancer deaths are diminishing. Regrettably, it is theorized that around one-third of U.S. adults are not up to date on their regular colonoscopy screenings.

#2: Colon and rectal cancer rates affect men and women similarly.

According to the American Cancer Society, around 1 in 25 women and 1 in 23 men will be diagnosed with colon and rectal cancer sometime throughout the course of their life. Since men and women have roughly the same chance of developing the disease, gender is not a colorectal cancer factor of risk. Colorectal cancer risk factors include:

  • Being overweight

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

  • Cigarette smoking

  • Being 45 or older

  • Excessive alcohol use

  • Having a family history of colon or rectal cancer

#3: There may be no signs or signals of colorectal cancer.

Per the Colon Cancer Coalition, about 60% of men and women determined to have colon cancer are diagnosed with highly progressed cancer, presumably because they did not request a test until there were signs of a threat. Individuals in the beginning stages of colon and rectal cancer will probably show no signs of the cancer, and when colon and rectal cancer does exhibit signals, it is likely advanced. Patients who do experience symptoms of colon and rectal cancer may have:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as chronic diarrhea or ongoing constipation

  • Stomach pain or discomfort

  • Exhaustion

  • Inexplicable weight reduction

  • Rectal bleeding

If you or a family member is encountering these serious colon and rectal cancer symptoms, get in touch with a gastrointestinal (GI) specialist in Little Rock, AR and schedule a colonoscopy as promptly as possible. You can locate a local GI physician by reaching out to GastroArkansas.

#4: When discovered early, colorectal cancer is often treatable.

Colon polyps can take as long as 10 – 15 years to develop into cancer. Precancerous growths can be removed long before they start to pose an issue, which makes colon and rectal cancer extremely avoidable in contrast with other cancers. Women and men who are diagnosed with early, limited colon cancer have a remarkably superior survival rate than those whose colorectal cancer has spread. The five-year odds of survival for localized colon cancer are near 90%. When discovered late, the five-year survival rate drops to under 10%. Please do not wait for symptoms to be screened.

#5: You should start routine colorectal cancer screenings after turning 45.

If you are at average risk for colorectal cancer, then the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends you have your initial colonoscopy by 45 years old and then once every decade if no irregularities are discovered. Women and men with an increased chance of colon and rectal cancer should receive colonoscopies around every 3 – 5 years or as suggested by a GI doctor. While several home kit options for colon and rectal cancer testing have been authorized by the FDA, the colonoscopy remains the gold standard for the identification and prevention of colorectal cancer.

Schedule an appointment with a GI doctor in Little Rock, AR

If you are due for a routine colon and rectal cancer screening, please reach out to GastroArkansas today. We can put you in touch with a local GI doctor who will prioritize your care, comfort, and treatment needs. Men and women facing colorectal cancer and various GI diseases can count on our physician-led network of gastroenterologists in Little Rock, AR. For more on the fight against colorectal cancer or help with scheduling a colonoscopy, contact our team at GastroArkansas.