Colorectal cancer, commonly known as bowel cancer, is a cancer from uncontrolled cell growth in the colon, rectum, or appendix. Symptoms typically include rectal bleeding and anemia which are sometimes associated with weight loss and changes in bowel habits.
Most colorectal cancer occurs due to lifestyle and increasing age with only a minority of cases associated with underlying genetic disorders. It typically starts in the lining of the bowel and if left untreated, can grow into the muscle layers underneath, and then through the bowel wall. Screening is effective at decreasing the chance of dying from colorectal cancer and is recommended starting at the age of 50 and continuing until a person is 75 years old. Localized bowel cancer is usually diagnosed through sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.
Cancers that are confined within the wall of the colon are often curable with surgery while cancer that has spread widely around the body is usually not curable and management then focuses on extending the person's life via chemotherapy and improving quality of life. Colorectal cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world, but it is more common in developed countries. Around 60% of cases were diagnosed in the developed world. It is estimated that worldwide, in 2008, 1.23 million new cases of colorectal cancer were clinically diagnosed, and that it killed 608,000 people.