When you eat food, the body breaks it down and extracts the nutrients you need through the digestive system.
The digestive system starts in the mouth and is made up of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon (also known as the large intestine), rectum, and anus. The small intestine’s main job is to absorb nutrients from your food. The colon’s main job is to reabsorb water and minerals from your poop.
The colon can be broken down into even smaller parts:
The colon ends at the rectum, where poop is stored until it is excreted through the anus.
Knowing what side of the colon your tumor is on is an important consideration. Right-sided colon cancer is found in the cecum, the ascending colon and the transverse colon. Left-sided colon cancer comprises tumors in the descending colon or sigmoid colon. Rectal cancer means that they primary tumor is in the rectum and anal cancer means that the primary tumor is located in the anus.
Tumors in the right and left colon have different characteristics, and may have different treatment plans. Rectal and anal cancer may have different treatment protocols depending on your diagnosis. For example, rectal tumors often require radiation before surgery, whereas colon tumors do not.
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Last updated: May 18, 2022