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News & Events

The Facts About Colon Cancer

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

What Is Colon Cancer?

Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, occurs in the colon or rectum. As the graphic below shows, the colon is part of the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus.

Colon cancer, when discovered early, is highly treatable. Even if it spreads into nearby lymph nodes, surgical treatment followed by chemotherapy is highly effective. In the most difficult cases — when the cancer has spread to the liver, lungs or other sites — treatment can help make surgery an option for many, as well as prolonging and adding to one’s quality of life. Research is constantly being done to learn more and provide hope for people no matter what stage they are.

Most colon cancers develop first as polyps, which are abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may later become cancerous if not removed.


Colon cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, and is most often found in people 50 years or older. However incidence in those younger than 50 is on the rise. This disease takes the lives of more than 50,000 people every year; we’re here to combat these statistics and educate people about how to prevent this disease. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the US, and the second leading cause of cancer death.

Break the silence with us and share the information you learn. Together we can knock out colon cancer.

The Statistics

Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year 136,830 people will be diagnosed and 50,310 will die from this disease.

On average, the lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is about one in 20 (5%), however, this varies widely according to individual risk factors.

About 72% of cases arise in the colon and about 28% in the rectum.


Early Detection

With regular screening, colon cancer can be found early, when treatment is most effective. In many cases, screening can prevent colon cancer by finding and removing polyps before they become cancer. And if cancer is present, earlier detection means a chance at a longer life. Generally, the more advanced colon cancer is at detection, the lower the five-year survival rates are.

Colon Cancer Survival Rates

Since the mid-1980s, the colon cancer survival rate has been increasing, due in part to increased awareness and screening. By finding polyps and cancer in the earlier stages, it is easiest to treat. Improved treatment options have also contributed to a rise in survival rates.

Survival Rates


Stage at Diagnosis

  • 40% of colon cancers are found at a local stage (confined to colon or rectum).
  • 36% of colon cancers are found at a regional stage (spread to surrounding tissue).
  • 20% of colon cancers are found after the disease has spread to distant organs.

Colon Cancer and Age

    • The average age of diagnosis is 72.

If you want to learn more about colon cancer or how you can get screened contact IMC’s GI Department and schedule an appointment today.

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