The colon is an approximately five to six foot long tube that connects the small intestine to the rectum. The colon, which along with the rectum is called the large intestine, moves and processes digested food across your body and down toward the rectum, where it exits the body as stool. The rectum on the other hand is a five to six inch chamber that connects the colon to the anus and acts as a storage unit and holds the stool until defecation or evacuation of the stool occurs. Typically, all of the body's cells grow, divide and then die in order to keep the body healthy and functioning properly. Sometimes this process gets out of control and cells keep growing and dividing even when they're supposed to die. When the cells lining the colon and the rectum multiply uncontrolled, colorectal cancer may ultimately develop. Colorectal cancer is the term used to describe cancer that affects either the colon or rectum, while cancer that starts in the colon is called colon cancer and cancer that starts in the rectum is called rectal cancer. Although cancer cells in the colon or rectum can sometimes travel to the liver or any other organ and grow there, this is still referred to as colorectal cancer because it originated there. There are few kinds of colon and rectal cancers, the most common being adrenal carcinoma. Fortunately, most colorectal cancers begin as small precancerous [?] or serrated polyps, which may produce few, if any, symptoms. These polyps usually grow slowly over many years and do not cause symptoms until they become large or cancerous. This allows the opportunity for detection and removal at this precancerous polyps stage before the development of cancer. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screening. If colon cancer develops, many treatments are available to help control it, including surgery, radiation therapy, and systemic drug treatments, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.
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