Colorectal cancer, also called colon cancer or large bowel cancer, includes cancerous growths in the colon, rectum and appendix. It forms in the tissues of the colon (the longest part of the large intestine). It is the third most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death. Colorectal cancer causes 655,000 deaths worldwide per year. Many colorectal cancers are thought to arise from adenomatous polyps in the colon. These mushroom-like growths are usually benign, but some may develop into cancer over time. The majority of the time, the diagnosis of localized colon cancer is through a colonoscopy. Therapy is usually through surgery, which in many cases is followed by chemotherapy.

The first symptoms of colon cancer are usually vague, like weight loss and fatigue.

-Change in bowel frequency (constipation and/or diarrhea)
-Feeling of incomplete defecation (tenesmus) and reduction in diameter of stool, both characteristic of rectal cancer
-Change in the appearance of stools
-Bowel obstruction causing bowel pain, bloating and vomiting of stool-like material.
-A tumor in the abdomen, felt by patients or their doctors.
-Symptoms related to invasion by the cancer of the bladder causing hematuria (blood in the urine) or pneumaturia (air in the urine), or invasion of the vagina causing smelly vaginal discharge. These are late events, indicative of a large tumor.
-Unexplained weight loss, probably the most common symptom, caused by lack of appetite
-Anemia, causing dizziness, fatigue and palpitations. Clinically, there will be pallor and blood tests will confirm the low hemoglobin level.
-Liver metastases
-Blood clots in the veins and arteries, a paraneoplastic syndrome related to hypercoagulability of the blood (the blood is "thickened")

For more information on Colorectal Cancer or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Gastroenterology Department at Medical Center Clinic at 850.474.8428

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