The colon and rectum together form the large intestine. It is the last part of the digestive system. It begins where
the small intestine ends at the right lower corner of the abdomen. It travels upwards towards the liver at the right
upper quadrant, then turns and goes across the abdomen to the left upper quadrant. From there, it turns downwards
and travels to the left lower part of the abdomen.
It then travels towards the centre of the pelvis and goes straight down and ends at the anus. The rectum forms the last 15cm of the large intestines and lies within the pelvis. It is so named because it is relatively straight.
Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells that has the ability to invade into surrounding organs as well as spread to distant sites.
Colorectal cancer originates from the inner lining or mucosa of the colon and rectum. The lining of the colon is
continuously growing and shedding. As such, the lining or mucosa is undergoing cell replication all the times. With each
replication, there is always a chance of a mutation. Although most mutations are recognised as an error by the body and
the mutant cell is removed, sometimes these mutant cells escape the body's defence mechanism and continue to grow. As
they grow, more mutation may occur and after a sequence of 4 or 5 mutations in the cell, they may turn cancerous.
Most of the colon cancer follows the adenoma-carcinoma sequence. What this means is that the colon wall first mutates into adenoma (a non-cancerous form) and over time with more mutation, changes into carcinoma (cancer).
The adenoma is usually in the form of a polyp which is a fleshy protuberance from the colon wall. Larger polyps may appear to have a stalk due to the weight of the polyp pulling on the colon lining.
With time, the adenoma type tissue in the polyp will turn cancerous. It then invades back into the polyp and up the stalk (if there is one) and eventually into the wall of the colon.
Once the cancer has invaded into the wall, it can then spread to distant organs either via the blood stream or the lymphatic system.
To know more about colorectal cancer, contact Ho Kok Sun Colorectal today at 6737 2778. You can also schedule an appointment with our colon surgeon, Dr Ho Kok Sun, for enquiries regarding our colorectal cancer screening options.