About Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is a cancer of the large intestine. The large intestine is approximately five and a half feet long. The colon makes up the first five feet of the large intestine, and the rectum makes up the last six inches.

Lower GI TractLower GI Tract
Colorectal cancer begins in the inside surface of the intestine, and typically develops over several years. It generally starts as a small, abnormal growth projecting from the surface of the colon, called a polyp. Some polyps can eventually turn into cancer. 

Colorectal cancer is often contained within the colon, but when it becomes advanced, the cancer can metastasize (spread) to other organs. When colorectal cancer spreads, it may move to the liver or lungs.

The colorectal cancer experts at Memorial Sloan Kettering use a physical exam and imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis and determine the stage of the disease.

Depending on the stage of your disease, your doctor may recommend treatment with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or some combination of these. Your treatment will also vary based on whether the cancer is located in your colon or your rectum.

You may also be eligible for a clinical trial exploring a new therapy.