OH-Blog Logo
Two people holding hands

Q+A: What You Need to Know About Colon Cancer

We answer your top questions about colon cancer — and how to beat it

First, the bad news: Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 95,270 cases of colon and 39,220 cases of rectal cancer were diagnosed in 2016.

The good news, though, is that it is highly treatable, if caught early enough. Thanks to improved screening and treatment, there are now 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer living in the United States. Read on to get answers to your most common colon cancer questions.

Q: What is colon cancer? What causes it?

A: Colon cancer occurs in the large intestine (the colon), which is the lower part of the digestive system. Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon and rectum — the last few inches of the colon. These two cancers are sometimes referenced together as colorectal cancer. It’s not known what actually causes colon cancer, but we know it most often starts from polyps that grow on the inner lining of the colon.

Q: Is colon cancer treatable?

A: Yes. The kind of colon cancer treatment you’ll receive depends on where the tumor is located and the stage it’s in. Treatment for colon cancer may involve surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Talk to your doctor about treatment options available to you.

Q: Does OhioHealth treat colon cancer?

A: Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancers diagnosed and treated at OhioHealth hospitals. Our general surgeons and colorectal surgeons have the expertise and training to care for patients with all stages of this cancer, offering the best possible treatment.

Q: Can colon cancer be inherited?

A: The risk for colon cancer increases if you have a parent, sibling or child with the disease. It increases even more if additional family members have it; however, this doesn’t always mean there’s a genetic syndrome causing the cancer in the family. Cancer in families can also result from shared exposure to environmental carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) and from similar dietary and lifestyle habits.

If you’re concerned about colon cancer in your family, contact the genetic experts in the OhioHealth Cancer Genetics Program. We can help you find answers.