Your Health

Colorectal Cancer

March 30, 2021 — Tonya Hayes

Source: National Cancer Institute

General Information About Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the colon or the rectum.

The colon and rectum are parts of the body’s digestive system. The digestive system removes and processes nutrients  (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water) from foods and helps pass waste material out of the body. The digestive system is made up of the mouth, throatesophagusstomach, and the small and large intestines. The colon (large bowel) is the first part of the large intestine and is about 5 feet long. Together, the rectum and anal canal make up the last part of the large intestine and are 6-8 inches long. The anal canal ends at the anus (the opening of the large intestine to the outside of the body). Anatomy of the lower digestive system, showing the colon and other organs.

Cancer that begins in the colon is called colon cancer, and cancer that begins in the rectum is called rectal cancer. Cancer that begins in either of these organs may also be called colorectal cancer

See the following summaries from the National Cancer Institute for more information about colorectal cancer:

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of death from cancer in the United States.

The number of new colorectal cancer cases and the number of deaths from colorectal cancer are decreasing a little bit each year in adults aged 55 years and older. But in adults younger than 55 years, there has been a small increase in the number of new cases and deaths from colorectal cancer in recent years. Colorectal cancer is found more often in men than in women.

Different factors increase or decrease the risk of getting colorectal cancer.

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Anything that decreases your chance of getting a disease is called a protective factor.

For information about risk factors and protective factors for colorectal cancer, see the PDQ summary on Colorectal Cancer Prevention.

Don’t forget: our health plan covers one colonoscopy every three (3) years after age forty-nine (49) for Non-Medicare Members.

Medicare covers screening colonoscopies once every 24 months if you’re at high risk for colorectal cancer. If you aren’t at high risk for colorectal cancer, Medicare covers the test once every 120 months, or 48 months after a previous flexible sigmoidoscopy. There’s no minimum age requirement.

Contact Member Services if you have questions about your health plan

Topics: Your Health

Written by

Tonya Hayes

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