What is Colorectal Carcinoma?

Colorectal cancer or colorectal carcinoma is a cancer of the colon or the rectum. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are 2 distinct forms of cancer, but have many similarities.

Before we delve into the details, a basic understanding of the digestive system is essential. The main function of the digestive system is to consume food, absorb its nutrients and excrete the waste products. Food is consumed through the mouth. It is chewed, swallowed and passed down to the stomach. In the stomach it is further broken down by the hydrochloric acid and released into the small bowel. Most of the nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine.

The remaining food materials, then pass into the colon, which absorbs the remaining nutrients and water from the remaining food. It also serves as a storage area for fecal matters. The feces move from the colon into the rectum, the terminal 6 inches of the digestive system and pass out of the body through the anus.

The colon starts at the end of the small intestine, on the right lower quadrant of the abdomen immediately after the ileum. It loops around the top of the abdomen and come down again to go into the rectum, which is in the lower part of the pelvis before opening in the perineal region to form the anus.

Colorectal cancers often start as a benign lesion called polyps, which forms in the inner lining of the colon and rectum. It further grows bigger. While not all polyps are cancer-forming, a certain group of polyps known as adenoma are precancerous lesions. An effective method to prevent colorectal carcinoma is to remove these lesions early. It is recommended that anyone with a strong history of colorectal carcinomas in the family to attend annual colonoscopy after the age of 50 years to detect and remove the precancerous adenomatous lesions

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