Cancer in Illinois - Resources
Colorectal Cancer Infographic (CDC)

< Home  < Types of Cancer

Colorectal Cancer

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or rectum. Colon and rectal cancers begin in the digestive system, also called the gastrointestinal (GI) system.

In most cases, colon and rectal cancers develop slowly over a period of several years. Colon and rectal cancer have many features in common and are often referred to as “colorectal cancer.” Most colorectal cancers begin as polyps. Colorectal polyps are tiny, grape-like growths inside the colon or rectum that may become cancerous.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women, and the second most common cause of U.S. cancer deaths when men and women are combined. Each year, an estimated 6,600 Illinoisans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 2,400 people will die from it. Screening tests, including colonoscopies, are one of the best ways to prevent colorectal cancer. Screening can often find colorectal cancer early, when it is most likely to be cured.

Facts: According to the Illinois State Cancer Registry, about 7,460 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in Illinois in 2008. About 2,670 Illinoisans are expected to die of colorectal cancer in 2008.

What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Colorectal Cancer?

The exact causes of colorectal cancer are not known. Common risk factors include:

What are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?

There are often no symptoms of colorectal cancer in its early stage. When symptoms are present, they include one or more of the following:

These symptoms may be caused by advanced colorectal cancer or some other condition. It is important to report any of these symptoms to your health care provider.

How to Prevent Colorectal Cancer:

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends these tests to screen for colorectal cancer:

For more information

American Cancer Society
Phone: 800-ACS-2345
TTY: 866-228-4327

National Cancer Institute
Phone: 800-4-CANCER
TTY: 800-332-8615

Illinois Department of Public Health
Comprehensive Cancer Control Program
535 W. Jefferson St., Second Floor
Springfield, IL 62761
Phone: 217-782-3300
TTY 800-547-0466