Colon cancer: What you need to know (w/ INFOGRAPHIC)

September 10, 2015 | by City of Hope

Colon cancer facts:

  • Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most-common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the U.S.
    • About 93,090 patients will be diagnosed with colon cancer in 2015.
    • The overall risk of developing colorectal cancer is about one in 20.
    • Colorectal cancer is expected to cause about 49,700 deaths in 2015.

Risk factors for colon cancer:

  • Diet: A diet that is high in red meats and processed meats can increase colorectal cancer risk.
  • Obesity: Obesity raises the risk of colon cancer in men and women, but the link seems to be stronger in men.
  • Smoking: Smoking is a well-known cause of lung cancer, but it is also linked to other cancers, such as colorectal.
  • Age: About nine out of 10 diagnosed with colorectal cancer are at least 50 years old.
  • Physical inactivity: If you are not physically active, you have a greater chance of developing colorectal cancer.


  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in the stool
  • Cramping or abdominal pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss
  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, that lasts for more than a few days


  • Colonoscopy: A flexible, thin, lighted tube is used to examine the rectum and entire colon for potentially cancerous changes.
  • Sigmoidoscopy: This procedure uses a shorter tube to examine only the rectum and lower colon.
  • Stool DNA testing: Samples of stool are tested for abnormal DNA associated with colorectal cancer.
  • Barium enema: In what is also called a lower GI series, a silver-white metallic compound is inserted through the rectum. This compound coats the interior of the colon and rectum, allowing for better visualization of abnormalities during X-rays.
  • Virtual colonoscopy: A series of X-rays create a detailed image of the colon and rectum.
  • Biopsy: Abnormal-looking cells are extracted and checked by a pathologist for cancerous signs.
  • Genetic testing: Cells extracted during biopsy are genetically tested to determine whether the cancer is sensitive, or resistant, to specific treatments.


  • Surgery: Surgery is often the primary treatment for colorectal cancer. It can be curative for early-stage patients and can also improve survival outcomes and reduce discomfort for later-stage patients.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies to kill cancer cells or to prevent the tumor from growing larger.
  • Drug therapy: Cancer-fighting drugs can enhance the effectiveness of surgery or radiation therapy by shrinking the tumor before the procedure, making it easier to remove, and by minimizing the chance of reoccurrence.



Feel free to reproduce this infographic for health and education purposes. Download the here.


In treating bladder cancer and other diseases, City of Hope’s multidisciplinary team of nationally known physicians and researchers collaborate to develop individualized treatment plans based on each patient’s unique needs.


Learn more about colon cancer treatment and research at City of Hope.


Learn more about getting care or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.

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