Colon and Rectal Cancer

Colon and Rectal Cancer, Causes, 5 Best Treatments and Definitions

Colon and Rectal Cancer are not same, However you may be thought they are same thing, in case you don’t know really. Colorectal cancer is a term used to describe cancer that begins in the colon or rectum. It may also go by the names rectal cancer or colon cancer. It begins when uncontrolled cell growth displaces healthy cells in the colon or rectum.

The body might experience the spread of cancer cells. Sometimes, cancerous cells from the colon or rectum might go to the liver and develop there. This process of cancer cells spreading is known as metastasis. The cancer cells that have spread to the new location resemble the ones that first appeared in the colon or rectum.

Cancer is usually given its name after the location of its origin. Therefore, colon cancer is still referred to as such when it travels to the liver (or any other location). If it doesn’t originate from liver cells, it isn’t termed liver cancer.

What are types of cancers in the world?

Figure-No-01: cancers in the world

There are many types of cancers that can affect different parts of the body. Here is a list of some of the most common types:

  1. Breast cancer
  2. Lung cancer
  3. Prostate cancer
  4. Colorectal (colon) cancer
  5. Skin cancer (including melanoma)
  6. Bladder cancer
  7. Kidney cancer
  8. Leukemia
  9. Lymphoma
  10. Pancreatic cancer

It’s important to note that there are many other types of cancer and some cancers may have different subtypes based on their characteristics. It’s always best to consult with a medical professional if you suspect that you or someone you know may have cancer.

What is the colon and rectal?

Figure-No-02: colon and rectal

The colon and rectum are parts of the digestive system, also known as the gastrointestinal tract.

The colon is a long muscular tube that is part of the large intestine. It starts from the end of the small intestine and extends down to the rectum. Its main function is to absorb water and electrolytes from the remaining indigestible food matter, forming solid feces which are eventually eliminated from the body.

The rectum is the last section of the large intestine, located just above the anal canal. Its main function is to store feces until it is expelled from the body through the anus during defecation.

The colon and rectum are prone to various diseases, including cancer, inflammatory bowel disease (such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), diverticulitis, and others. Regular screening tests such as colonoscopies can help detect issues in these areas early, when they are most treatable.

Definition of Colon and Rectal Cancer

Colon and Rectal Cancer are two types of cancer that affect the colon and rectum, respectively.

Colon Cancer: Colon Cancer (Colorectal Cancer) refers to malignant tumors found within the colon of a large intestine’s lower part, known as its lower segment. Colon cancer usually begins at its inner lining before metastasizing to nearby lymph nodes or organs without treatment; many colon cancers start out as small noncancerous polyps and slowly transition into cancer over time if left undiagnosed and treated early enough. As one of the world’s most frequently occurring cancers, colon cancer remains one of its most widely prevalent types with serious consequences should it not be properly detected and managed early enough.

Rectal Cancer: Rectal cancer specifically impacts the rectum, or last several inches of the large intestine. It often begins as abnormal cell growth on its lining before progressing to cancerous state if left unchecked. Rectums play an essential part during bowel movements by holding and expelling stool before it reaches anus; similarly colon cancer forms from benign polyps. Rectal cancer falls under colorectal cancer’s umbrella but its proximity and symptoms vary widely depending upon location; symptoms that diagnosis options.

Colorectal cancer encompasses colon and rectal cancers; both share similar risk factors, screening methods, and treatment approaches. Due to differences in anatomical location and functional roles within the digestive tract, symptoms, diagnostic procedures, and treatments may differ between cancer types – it’s therefore vital that physicians recognize these distinctions for effective medical care and improved outcomes for their patients.

Difference Between Colon and Rectal Cancer

The primary distinction between colon and rectal cancers lies in their anatomical location within the digestive tract.

Here are a few key distinctions:


  • Colon Cancer: Colon Cancer (or colon cancer for short) refers to any malignant growth of cells within the colon – the lower portion of the large intestine – including any segment such as ascending, transverse, descending or sigmoid colons.
  • Rectal Cancer: Rectal cancer occurs in the last several inches of large intestine before reaching its conclusion at anus, commonly affecting rectum (lower part). Tumors often form within 12 centimeters from its anal verge and form tumors in lower portions.


  • Colon Cancer: Common signs and symptoms of colon cancer include changes to bowel habits such as diarrhea or constipation; rectal bleeding; abdominal discomfort or pain; iron deficiency anemia and unexpected weight loss.
  • Rectal Cancer: Rectal cancer presents itself in different ways from colon cancer; specific symptoms could include persistently feeling like you need a bowel movement), changes in urgency levels or rectal fullness/pressure sensation.

Diagnostic and Treatment Differences:

  • Diagnostic Procedures: While colonoscopy can be an effective means for diagnosing both colon and rectal cancer, its degree of visualization varies significantly during each exam. An alternative option sigmoidoscopy which examines lower portions of both colon and recto may provide more specific diagnosis of rectal disease.
  • Surgical Approaches: Given their differing anatomical locations, surgery for colon and rectal cancer treatment options can differ significantly. Rectal cancer may require sphincter-preserving surgery (such as low anterior resection ) in order to preserve bowel function; occasionally temporary or permanent colostomies may also be necessary as part of rectal cancer therapy.
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy may be more frequently utilized when treating rectal cancer due to its proximity to the anus and thus potentially needing additional, targeted care.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy can be utilized to treat colon and rectal cancer depending on its stage and extent, though individualized chemotherapy regimens may differ according to patient factors and treatment goals.

Notably, although colon and rectal cancer differ substantially in many respects, they are frequently lumped together under the heading “colorectal cancer”, due to shared characteristics, risk factors and treatment approaches. Prognosis and management depend on several factors including disease stage progression as well as individual patient traits as well as effectiveness of chosen therapy modalities.

So, There are several treatments available for colon and rectal cancer, and the specific treatment plan depends on the stage of the cancer, the location of the tumor, and the overall health of the patient.

Some common treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Surgery is often the first line of treatment for early-stage colon and rectal cancers, while more advanced cases may require a combination of treatments.

It’s important to work closely with your healthcare team to determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs.

Causes and Risk Factors

Figure-No-03: Causes and Risk Factors

There is no single cause of cancer of the intestine; many factors could play a part in its progression.

People aged 40-75 have an increased chance of colon cancer than younger individuals; more women tend to get it, whereas rectal cancer tends to strike men more commonly than the former.

Family polyposis Lynch syndrome Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (ulcers in the large intestine’s lining) increase risk for colorectal cancer; children, siblings or brothers diagnosed with colorectal cancer themselves also increase the chance of getting it at some later point.

People at risk of cancers caused by colon tissue are likely to consume diets low in fiber and high in animal proteins as well as refined carbs and fat, and their exact cause remains elusive.

Here Few tips for everyone:

  1. Know your current risk for colorectal cancer and familiarize yourself with the most recent screening recommendations.
  2. No of your age, you should contact a doctor immediately once if you develop symptoms including bleeding, stomach pain, or a change in bowel habits.
  3. Ask your doctor whether or how they decided whether the cancer was found in the colon or the rectum if screening finds it in the lower section of the colon. Request further imaging or get a second opinion if you have any doubts.
  4. Select a surgeon with experience who conducts plenty of surgeries for colon and rectal cancer.
  5. If at all feasible, pick a facility with experience in interdisciplinary colorectal cancer care.
  6. Make sure the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s published treatment recommendations are followed by your cancer care team.

SO, In short what is the difference between colon and rectal cancers?

The gastrointestinal system and body’s anatomy are where there are the most differences. While the rectum and colon are both a component of the large intestine, the rectum only makes up the final five to six inches of the colon before it joins the anus. The incidence of colon cancer in elderly people has been trending downward during the past few decades. However, there has been a recent upward trend in the incidence of rectum and distal colon cancers in those under the age of 50. The majority of these occurrences in younger people happen in those who are in their 40s, and these malignancies in younger people are typically more aggressive.

There are certain distinctive signs for colon and rectal cancer in addition to the usual symptoms (bleeding, discomfort, changes in stools).

Diagnosing colon versus rectal cancer

Although colonoscopy is frequently used to screen for colon and rectal cancers, there are other less invasive methods available as well, such as stool DNA testing, fecal immunochemical testing, and CT colonography. Major recommendations advise patients and healthcare professionals to discuss the possibilities and choose the screening test that is appropriate for the patient.

The key to catching colon and rectal cancer early, when it is most curable, is to be aware of your risk factors and be checked. The survival rate for colorectal cancer is 90% if detected early, compared to fewer than 10% if detected at a later stage.

Is one type of cancer more severe or aggressive than another?

Once more, anatomy is important. One of the key criteria for determining severity of a cancer is its stage, or how far it has spread. Overall, the rectum is smaller than the colon and is located in a more restricted area of the body, which may make it simpler for the disease to spread to nearby tissue. Rectal cancer, in general, can be more challenging to treat and cure, and it may return in up to 55% of cases.

Are the therapies for rectal and colon cancer the same all time?

Both colon and rectal cancers may be treated with surgery and/or chemotherapy, depending on the diagnosis and development (“stage”) of the illness. One distinction is that colon cancer is not often treated with radiation treatment; however, rectal cancer may be treated with radiation.

How does the doctor know in case I have colorectal cancer in body?

There are several tests and procedures that a doctor may use to diagnose colorectal cancer.

These include:

  1. Colonoscopy: During this procedure, a flexible tube with a camera is inserted into the rectum to examine the entire colon. If any abnormal growths or tissue are found, a biopsy will be taken and sent to a lab for analysis.
  2. Biopsy: A small piece of tissue is removed during a colonoscopy or surgery and examined under a microscope for signs of cancer.
  3. Blood tests: A blood test can detect certain proteins that indicate the presence of colorectal cancer.
  4. Imaging tests: X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and PET scans can be used to create images of the colon and rectum and identify any abnormalities.

If cancer is detected, further testing may be needed to determine the stage (extent) of the cancer, which helps guide treatment decisions. Treatment options for colorectal cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy, depending on the stage and other factors.


Colon and rectal cancer are serious health concerns that require early detection, proper treatment, and lifestyle modifications for prevention. Understand your risk factors, symptoms and available treatments is an effective way of taking charge of your own health. Remember, regular screenings and timely medical consultations are vital in the fight against colon and rectal cancer.