Colon cancer: Essential facts

Author: Institute for Cancer Genetics and Informatics

The large intestine is about one to one-and-a-half meter long. It is part of the intestinal canal which is between the small intestine and the rectum. A sphincter between the small and large intestine prevents digested matter from retreating.

The large intestine consists of an appendix and an ascending intestine, a transverse and declining large intestine, and the s-shaped large intestine which ends at the rectum. The large intestine consists of two layers of smooth muscular tissue covered by mucosa. Liquid fluid is absorbed in the large intestine, and becomes more compact as it progresses through the intestinal tract. The stool is stored in the rectum, Irregular bowel habits or stools containing blood are cause to see a doctor. The doctor examines the stomach and checks the rectum with one finger. With the reason for suspecting cancer the rectum is examined by performing a rectoscopy. A tissue sample may be taken. Further examinations of the rectum and intestines is done by coloscopy.

In this procedure a flexible tube is inserted via the rectum. Tissue samples may be taken. Cancer found in the large intestine amount to approximately 15 % of all cancer recurrences in Norway. Second to breast cancer found in women, and prostate cancer in men, cancer found in the large intestine and rectum is the most common found in both sexes.

Most cases arise without definite cause, with approximately five percent being inherited. Even though a great number of cancer cases remain localized in the large intestine or rectum, some tumors may grow directly into the abdominal wall, diaphragm, liver, stomach, duodenum, small intestine, pancreas, kidney, or spleen. The cancer cells may liberate from the tumor, and be transported, via the blood stream to other parts of the body.

Colon cancer: Essential facts

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