Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer, which is often also called colon cancer or rectal cancer, starts in the colon (the large intestine) or the rectum (the end of the colon). Early warning signs include:

  • A change in bowel habits that last more than a few days
  • Bleeding or blood in the stool
  • Cramping or stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • The feeling of fullness in your bowels that does not go away after you have a bowel movement

If you have any of these symptoms—especially if you are age 50 or older or you have a family history of colon cancer—contact your primary care doctor. Early screening is our best tool in preventing and treating colon cancer.

For more information on colorectal cancer and support:

Risks for Colorectal Cancer

There are many factors and habits that can increase your chances of developing colorectal cancer including:

  • A family history of colorectal cancer
  • A personal history of polyps
  • Age
  • Diet and exercise
  • Race
  • A history of smoking
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal problems like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis

To learn more about risk factors for colorectal cancer, take this risk assessment questionnaire or read more about colorectal cancer risk factors.

Colorectal Cancer Treatment

If you have colorectal cancer, you can rely on the specialists at UMass Memorial Medical Center for the most advanced care. Our cancer specialists—medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and surgeons—help you understand your illness and plan the best possible treatment for your particular situation. At UMass Memorial, you get high-level care and attention from a whole team of experts. We provide accurate diagnosis and work with you to plan the most effective treatment with:

We work to get you back to your life as smoothly and as quickly as possible with treatment options like minimally invasive colorectal surgery. Minimally invasive surgery means our surgeons operate with smaller incisions, which often means less pain and a faster recovery for you.

Research and Clinical Trials

Working with UMass Chan Medical School, the Cancer Center serves as a forum for education and research. Extensive colorectal cancer research and clinical trials are conducted so you benefit from the latest diagnostic and treatment options that come from this research.

Cancer Center Exceeds Performance Measures

Performance measures give patients a way to assess health care quality compared to national standards. Measurements are a way to help patients know if they are receiving appropriate and high-quality care. Learn more about cancer quality measures.


American College of Surgeons

American College of Surgeons

American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons

American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons

The Joint Commission

The Joint Commission