The colon is the end of the long, coiled, tubular digestive tract called the large intestine, which is located in the abdomen. It acts as a waste processor, taking digested food in the form of solid waste and pushing it out of the body through the rectum and anus.
The lining of the colon is a prime location for the development and growth of small polyps or tumors. Polyps are often benign, or noncancerous. However, the colon can also contain malignant, or cancerous tumors.
Colon cancer can occur in men or women and is most often found in people over the age of 50. Symptoms of colon cancer may include persistent constipation or diarrhea, blood in the stool, and unexplained fatigue or weight loss. Colon cancer is often discussed together with rectal cancer, and together they are referred to as "colorectal cancer."
As with most cancers, early detection is key. Regular screening tests should be done on patients who may be at increased risk, including people over the age of 50 or who have a family history of colon cancer.