Colon (colorectal) cancer often begins as a growth called a polyp — malignant cells gather and form in the colon tissues, causing cancer. Risk factors for the disease include a family history of colon or rectal cancer, a personal history of high-risk adenomas, Chron disease, Lynch syndrome, and certain lifestyle habits (like diets high in red meat). According to the National Cancer Institute’s data, the five-year survival rate is above 64%, but increases significantly if the disease has not spread. There are many tests that detect and diagnose colorectal cancer including a physical exam, colonoscopy, and biopsy. In addition, treatment options depend on the stage but include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiofrequency ablation, and targeted therapy.
A number of researchers at the Cancer Center at Illinois have focused on understanding and improved diagnosis and treatment of colon cancer, with projects ranging from cell analysis to imaging innovations.