Colon, Rectal, and Anal Cancers

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Facts About Colon, Rectal, and Anal Cancers

  • The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2015, there will be 93,090 new cases of colon cancer in the United States, 39,610 new cases of rectal cancer, and 7,270 new cases of anal cancer.
  • Risk factors for cancers of the colon and rectum include age (being older than 50), having polyps, and having a positive family history of colorectal cancer. In addition, a history of ulcerative colitis (ulcers in the lining of the large intestine) or Crohn’s disease and certain hereditary conditions, such as familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC; Lynch Syndrome) place people with these conditions at increased risk for colon or rectal cancer. Risk factors for anal cancer include age (being older than 50), being infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), having had many sexual partners, having receptive anal intercourse, and smoking cigarettes.
  • The death rate from colorectal cancers has been dropping for the past two decades, thanks to earlier detection of the disease and the development of new treatments.
  • The number of new cases of anal cancer has been rising in recent years, but treatment for the disease often is very effective.

Treating Colon, Rectal, and Anal Cancers

  • The primary treatment for colon cancer is surgery. Your doctor also may recommend radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or both, depending on the location and stage of your cancer.
  • For some rectal cancers, radiation therapy is administered with chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumor so that it can be removed more easily during surgery. In other cases, radiation is administered after surgery to keep the cancer from returning.
  • Anal cancer often can be treated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy, without surgery.

For More Information

Visit the National Cancer Institute

Colon Cancer

Rectal Cancer

Anal Cancer