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’s disease, Lynch syndrome, and certain lifestyle habits (such as 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 physical exams, 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.