Colon, or colorectal, cancer is cancer that starts in the large intestine (colon) or the rectum (end of the colon).
Other types of cancer can affect the colon, such as lymphoma, carcinoid tumors, melanoma, and sarcomas. These are rare. In this article, use of the term "colon cancer" refers to colon carcinoma only.
Many cases of colon cancer have no symptoms. The following symptoms, however, may indicate colon cancer:
•Abdominal pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen
•Blood in the stool
•Diarrhea, constipation, or other change in bowel habits
•Weight loss with no known reason
You have a higher risk for colon cancer if you:
•Are older than 60
•Are African American, Native American and eastern European descent
•Eat a diet high in red or processed meat
•Have cancer elsewhere in the body
•Have colorectal polyps
•Have inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)
•Have a family history of colon cancer
•Have a personal history of breast cancer
Certain genetic syndromes also increase the risk of developing colon cancer. Two of the most common are hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), also known as Lynch syndrome, and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).
What you eat may play a role in your risk of colon cancer. Colon cancer may be associated with a high-fat, low-fiber diet and red meat. However, some studies found that the risk does not drop if you switch to a high-fiber diet, so the cause of the link is not yet clear.
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