- What is cancer?
- What is colorectal cancer?
- What are the key statistics about colorectal cancer?
- What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?
- Do we know what causes colorectal cancer?
- Can colorectal cancer be prevented?
- Can colorectal polyps and cancer be found early?
- Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer
- How is colorectal cancer diagnosed?
- How is colorectal cancer staged?
- What are the survival rates for colorectal cancer by stage?
- How is colorectal cancer treated?
- Surgery for colon cancer
- Surgery for rectal cancer
- Ablation and embolization to treat colorectal cancer
- Radiation therapy for colorectal cancer
- Chemotherapy for colorectal cancer
- Targeted therapies for colorectal cancer
- Clinical trials for colorectal cancer
- Complementary and alternative therapies for colorectal cancer
- Treatment of colon cancer by stage
- Treatment of rectal cancer by stage
- More treatment information about colorectal cancer
- What should you ask your doctor about colorectal cancer?
- What happens after treatment for colorectal cancer?
- Can I get another cancer after having colorectal cancer?
- Lifestyle changes after treatment of colorectal cancer
- How does having colorectal cancer affect your emotional health?
- If treatment for colorectal cancer stops working
- What`s new in colorectal cancer research and treatment?
- Additional resources for colorectal cancer
- References: Colorectal cancer detailed guide
Can colorectal cancer be prevented?
Even though we don't know the exact cause of most colorectal cancers, it is possible to prevent many of them.
Screening is the process of looking for cancer or pre-cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease. Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful weapons for preventing colorectal cancer.
From the time the first abnormal cells start to grow into polyps, it usually takes about 10 to 15 years for them to develop into colorectal cancer. Regular screening can, in many cases, prevent colorectal cancer altogether. This is because most polyps can be found and removed before they have the chance to turn into cancer. Screening can also result in finding colorectal cancer early, when it is highly curable.
For more information about screening, including the American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of colorectal cancer, see our document Colorectal Cancer Prevention and Early Detection.
Genetic testing, screening, and treatment for those with a strong family history
If you have a strong family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, you should talk with your doctor about it. Cancer in close (first-degree) relatives such as parents, brothers, and sisters is most concerning, but cancer in more distant relatives can also be important. You might benefit from genetic counseling to review your family medical tree to see how likely it is that you have a family cancer syndrome. The counselor can also help you decide if gene testing is right for you. People who have an abnormal gene can take steps to prevent colon cancer, such as getting screened at an early age or even having surgery.
More information about testing for family cancer syndromes linked to colorectal cancer can be found in our document Colorectal Cancer Prevention and Early Detection.
Last Medical Review: 10/15/2014
Last Revised: 02/27/2015