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Both colon and rectal cancer affect the
large intestine, which is the lowest part
of the digestive system. But they start in
different places within it.
Colon cancer can start anywhere in the colon,
which is about 5 feet long and absorbs water from
The rectum is in a more crowded neighborhood. Your bladder is
nearby. So are the uterus and vagina for women, or the prostate for
men. The tight space may affect the kinds of surgeries that doctors
can do to remove tumors
Rectal cancer starts in the rectum, which is the last 12 centimeters
(nearly 5 inches) of the colon. It’s where the body stores stools until
you have a bowel movement.
The greatest difference lies is the anatomy of the body and gastrointestinal
While the colon and rectum are both part of the large intestine, the colon is
approximately five feet long and the rectum is the last five to six inches of
the colon that connects to the anus.
There is a trend over the last few decades of slightly decreasing incidence in
colon cancer in older individuals.
What is the difference between colon
and rectal cancers?
HOW DO YOU DIAGNOSE COLON
VERSUS RECTAL CANCER ?
While many people may be familiar with
colonoscopy as a common form of screening for
colon and rectal cancers, there are also non-
invasive options for screening, including a stool
DNA test, and CT colonography.
Is one cancer more serious
(or aggressive) than the other ?
Overall, the rectum is much shorter than the
colon and in a tighter spot in the body, making
it potentially easier for the cancer to spread to
In general, rectal cancer can be more difficult to
Are treatments for colon cancer and rectal
cancer the same? ?
Depending on the diagnosis and progression
(“stage”) of the disease, surgery and/or
chemotherapy may be options to treat both colon
and rectal cancers.
One difference is radiation therapy, which is not
commonly used to treat colon cancer; however,
radiation may be used to treat rectal cancer.
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