Now that you have seen the normal anatomy and function of the colon and rectum, let's take a look at some of the common problems that can occur in these areas. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may be looking at one or more of these problems.
Hemorrhoids are a very common problem. A hemorrhoid is a collection of swollen veins in the rectum or anus that can cause bleeding and/or itching.
Another common problem that can also cause bleeding is an anal fissure. A fissure is a painful tear in the anus.
Many inflammatory bowel diseases can also affect the colon and rectum. Two examples include Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis. These disorders can cause bleeding, diarrhea, and pain.
Sometimes the wall of your colon can form sacs or pouches, known as diverticula. These sacs may bleed or may become inflamed, and the condition is then called diverticulitis. They may cause severe abdominal pain.
Abnormal growths are another possible problem within the colon or rectum. Abnormal growths can be non-cancerous, precancerous or cancerous.
Pre-cancerous means that the abnormal growth can grow and become cancerous with time. One example of an abnormal growth is a polyp. Polyps can be found on the lining of the colon or rectum and vary from the size of a pinhead to a golf ball or larger. They are typically either non-cancerous or pre-cancerous.
Abnormal growths can sometimes be cancerous. Cancer of the colon or rectum is a very common type of cancer in people over the age of fifty. It often consists of abnormal cancerous growths on the lining inside your colon or rectum. Symptoms of colon cancer can include bleeding and changes in bowel habits, however, patients may have no symptoms.
These examples represent some of the more common problems that can develop in your colon or rectum.
Your doctor will be able to describe the suspected cause of your specific symptoms and the abnormal findings that may be associated with them.