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Q&A: Colorectal Cancer

What (if any) is the difference between colon cancer, rectal cancer, and colorectal cancer?

Both colon and rectal cancer are considered to be colorectal cancers. Colon cancer begins in the colon (large intestine) and rectal cancer in the rectum (the last five to six inches of the colon that connects to the anus and stores stools until they are passed). Colon and rectal cancers share similar symptoms, such as pain, changes in bowel habits, and blood in the stool. Also, because the colon and rectum are close together, cancer can begin in one area and move into the other—hence the combined name. Where the cancers differ is in their treatment options. In general, colon cancer is treated with surgery to remove the affected portion of the colon, followed by chemotherapy if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes. Rectal cancer treatment typically begins with either chemotherapy or radiation (or a combination of these) to kill cancer cells and shrink a tumor prior to its surgical removal. For more info like this, subscribe to the newsletter at


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