1.The Colon and Rectum are collectively known as the Colorectum and colorectal cancer is a cancer that starts in the cells that line either the colon or the rectum.

2. Colorectal cancer usually starts from a polyp, a growth that originates from the lining of the colon or rectum.

3. Polyps are benign entities and can take 3-5 years to develop and an additional 2-3 years to turn cancerous.

To understand colon and rectal cancer, collectively known as colorectal cancer, it’s best to delve into the part of the body that is impacted and how it functions. The colon is a 6-foot long muscular tube connecting the small intestine to the rectum. The colon, which along with the rectum is also known as the large intestine, is a highly specialized organ that is responsible for processing digestive waste so that emptying the bowels is easy and convenient. The colon removes water from the stool (digestive waste matter) and stores the solid stool. Once or twice a day it empties its contents into the rectum to begin the process of elimination. The rectum is a 6-8-inch storage chamber that connects the colon to the anus. It is the rectum’s job to receive stool from the colon, to let you know there is stool to be evacuated, and to hold the stool until you are ready to evacuate that stool.


1.The large intestine is also known as the large bowel and commonly referred to as the colorectum, or just the colon.

2. The colon’s main function is to reabsorb large quantities of water and nutrients from undigested food
products. If too much water is reabsorbed, constipation may result. Not absorbing enough water may
result in diarrhea.

3. The rectum’s main function is to store feces, or waste material, before being expelled from the body.


1. Not all colorectal cancers are hereditary, but all colorectal cancers are caused by genetic mutations.

2. Approximately 70-75% of colorectal cancers are sporadic:  these are cancers that occur in people who do not have a family history of that cancer or an inherited change in their genetic material (DNA) that would increase their risk for that cancer.

All cancers are the result of gene mutations. The vast majority are sporadic occurrences with only some caused by hereditary genetic syndromes. Genetic conditions involve a largely unpredictable interplay of many factors and processes. Just because you hold a genetic mutation for something does not necessarily mean it will be expressed in your lifetime but knowing your risk can save your life. Please read on to learn more about the genetics behind colorectal cancer.



Some Helpful Facts…..

1. Staging of your colorectal cancer will help determine the type of treatment you receive for your colorectal cancer.

2. The Grade of your cancer is often simplified as either Low Grade or High Grade and can affect your treatment.

3. Colorectal cancer can spread through the lymph nodes – the liver and lungs being the most prominent distant organs affected in the body.

4. The size of your colorectal tumour is not a predictor of outcomes.

If a person has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, one of the first things they will want to know is the stage of their cancer. The stage refers to the extent of the cancer or how far it has spread. The stage of colon or rectal cancer is important because it will determine the best therapeutic approach in the management of the disease. 

The tool used to describe the stage of a patient’s disease is the TNM Staging System.  Doctors use the results from diagnostic tests and scans to answer these questions:

  1. Tumor (T): Has the tumor grown into the wall of the color or rectum? If so, how many layers of the colorectal wall are affected?
  2. Node (N): Has the tumour spread to the lymph nodes? If so, where and how many lymph nodes are involved?
  3. Metastasis (M): Has the cancer spread to distant organs of the body? If so, where and how many organs are involved?


1.A screening test will NOT definitively diagnose colorectal cancer. A BIOPSY will confirm the presence of cancer.

2.In a biopsy, the doctor removes a small piece of tissue from a polyp or tumor to generate a formal diagnosis.

Screening, such as FOBT and FIT, is intended for the average risk Canadian – a person who does not have symptoms from colorectal cancer and does not have a first degree relative who was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. It typically is recommended for people age 50 and older but the test cannot officially diagnose colorectal cancer. Instead, diagnostic (rather than a screening) test is required such as a colonoscopy, biopsy, and imaging tests are required to confirm the diagnosis of colorectal cancer as well as define the extent of the disease.

While some people start the journey due to routine recommended checkups (screening), others do so because of troubling symptoms, or an abnormal physical exam, or a new finding on a lab test such as iron deficiency anemia. The following tests, procedures, and scans are used by medical experts to help diagnose colorectal cancer. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this content, do not hesitate to contact CCRAN at info@ccran.org. We will be pleased to assist you. 


  Colorectal Cancer Resource & Action Network (CCRAN) has issued the following summary based on the 2020 Canadian Cancer Statistics issued by the Canadian Cancer Society, Statistics Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Provincial/Territorial Cancer Registries. 

We have presented colorectal cancer-relevant information but should you wish to view the publication concerning all statistics, it can be found here. 


Some Helpful Facts: 

-Being physically inactive is a risk factor for colorectal cancer.  A simple walk around the block can help boost your activity level.

-High intakes of fruits, vegetables and fibre can decrease your risk of developing colorectal cancer.  Add colourful veggies and fruits to your diet to help stave off the disease.  It’s never too late to start!

We don’t really know why colorectal cancer develops in some people and not in others. However, the same risk factors have been identified over the years which increases a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase a person’s chances of developing a disease or condition.

Risk factors for colorectal cancer can be divided into two main groups: those that you cannot change and those that are lifestyle-related and, therefore, can be changed by you. Please read on to learn more about the risk factors for colorectal cancer.


1. The right side of the colon is wider than the left side of the colon. Therefore, cancers that originate on the left side of the colon are more likely to cause partial or complete bowel obstructions. This can cause symptoms of constipation, narrowed stool, diarrhea, abdominal pains, cramps, and bloating; and can, therefore, be detected earlier than cancers that originate on the right side of the colon.

2. When colorectal cancer is in the early stages, it is typically silent – void of symptoms. This is why getting screened is so important. It picks up cancers that are silent and easily removed.



1. Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may help prevent 50% of cancers, including colorectal cancer.

2. Eating mostly plant-based foods plays a big role in preventing cancer and contributing to a healthier life.

3. Eating at least 3 ounces or servings of whole grains per day lowers risk of colorectal cancer. 1 ounce of whole grain is equivalent to 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice, 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal, 1/2 cup of cooked whole grain pasta, or 1 regular slice of whole-grain bread.


1.Having regular stool tests, such as the FIT, lowers the risk of dying from colorectal cancer.

2. Nine out of ten people can be cured if colon cancer is caught early through screening!

Colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Canada.  It is the second leading cause of death from cancer in Canadian men and the third leading cause of death from cancer in Canadian women. It is, however, the MOST PREVENTABLE CANCER THROUGH SCREENING!


My Colorectal Cancer Consultant is an online tool designed by CCRAN to provide patients with advanced colorectal cancer with information about potential treatment options that they can discuss with their treating oncologist.  Patients will be guided through a series of questions requiring their pathology report. At the end, they will receive a personalized report that outlines the potential treatment options that may be appropriate for them based on their individual diagnosis.

The goal is to help patients have a thoughtful discussion with their treating oncologist by providing them with more evidence-based information on the potential treatment options that may be available for them and to encourage informed and joint decision-making between the patient and their treating oncologist.


A diagnosis of colorectal cancer can be an overwhelming event. The emotional impact is intense. And, at the same time, you feel under pressure to act quickly, knowing the importance of getting treatment as soon as possible.

This guide was developed to help you through this immediate situation ─ and throughout your cancer journey. With so many things going on, you need practical, useful information about therapeutic options in order to ask the right questions of your physician and to share in decisions about your treatment.

Each person is different and a personalized approach to treatment takes into account factors related to your tumour, your body and your preferences. Advances in research over recent years have meant that more treatment options than ever are available to meet the needs of individual patients.

Colorectal Cancer Resource & Action Network (CCRAN) has prepared descriptions of treatments according to each stage of disease: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and targeted anti-cancer drugs.

Would you like to learn more about how Immunotherapies treat cancer? Please click on the following link to access information on  Immuno-Oncology:   Home – Immuno-Oncology (redefining-cancer-treatment.ca)



Knowing your biomarker profile can help you and your care team to better understand the characteristics of your tumour and to personalize your treatment plan.

An exciting scientific development in recent years has been the identification of biomarkers ─ molecules found in your tumour or other tissues that can reveal whether a process in your body is normal or pathogenic (causing disease). If you have been diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer, it is crucial to know your tumour’s biomarker profile so that your care team can develop a personalized treatment plan for you.


1. Vast improvements are being made in the management of side effects associated with colorectal cancer therapies!
2. An increasing number of colorectal cancer treatment-induced side effects can now be prevented by the use of newer, targeted medications!

Treatment of your colorectal cancer – whether by surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or targeted medications (or a combination of these) ─ may result in side effects.

While some side effects are unpleasant, it is often because the treatment is working to destroy colorectal cancer cells and, in the process, some healthy tissues are also affected.

Many side effects are expected, manageable and pose no danger to you. Most side effects are temporary and, once treatment is completed, they will disappear over time as your body heals from the anti-cancer treatment and healthy cells start to regrow.

Remedies are available for many of these treatment-induced side effects. This section of the Colorectal Cancer Resource & Action Network (CCRAN) website includes a comprehensive list of treatment-induced side effects and what you can do to manage them.




 Clinical trials are studies that involve people and test many types of interventions including drugs, devices, genetic therapies, natural health products, psychotherapies, and lifestyle and preventative care interventions.

Understanding A New Treatment for A Clinical Trial

Conducting clinical trials for potential new treatments allow doctors and researchers to get a better understanding of how those treatments will perform on patients. Please click here to learn more about understanding a treatment for a clinical tria

Why Are Clinical Trials Done

Clinical trials are done for numerous reasons that benefit the patient as well as medical research. Please click here to learn more about why clinical trials are done.

Types of Clinical Trials

There are clinical trials used to screen, prevent, and treat a specific disease. Please click here to learn more about these types of clinical trials.

Phases of Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are done in phases to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the treatment. Please click here to learn out more about the phases of clinical trials.

Patient Safety

Patient safety is key when performing clinical trials and must be enforced. Please click here to learn more about clinical trials.

Informed Consent

The informed consent process is comprehensive and helps you to understand everything you need to know about the clinical trial. Please click here to learn more about informed consent.

Does Health Insurance Cover Out of Country Clinical Trials

Looking for clinical trials outside of Canada is a great option but it is important to double check your health insurance coverage to determine what extent the provider will cover. Please click here to learn more about health insurance coverage outside of Canada.

Finding the Right Clinical Trials (Canada)

Research is key when it comes to finding the right clinical trial. Please click here to learn more about finding clinical trials in Canada.

Finding the Right Clinical Trials (Internationally)

Taking part in a clinical trial outside of Canada is a big step and is important patients know what to look for. Please click here to learn more about finding clinical trials internationally.


Learn More About Clinical Trials


Would you like some assistance navigating the clinical trials space? Call us, we are eager to help.
Toll Free: 1 833- 79 – CCRAN (22726)


CCRAN believes it is important to provide patients and caregivers with evidence-based information on the disease, which is why it performs comprehensive and systematic reviews of the literature every month to produce updates on treatments and clinical research. Appearing below are monthly updates organized according to treatment modality and discipline:
• Drugs/Systemic Therapies
• Surgical Therapies
• Radiation Therapies
• Psychosocial Oncology
• Screening
• Other
• Nutrition/Healthy Lifestyle
• Covid-19 Updates
Please click on a particular date appearing below to view the document that contains the updates for that month.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding the content appearing in a particular update, do not hesitate to contact us at info@ccran.org. We are eager to help.


Naturopathic Medicine is unique in how it treats the “why” of the disease. The body is seen as an ecosystem made up of various organs that depend on each other for survival (much like animals and plants depend on each other in the environment). When there are imbalances in our internal environment, we begin to see disease. Restoring a healthy internal environment to maintain a state of health is the goal of the naturopathic doctor.

Naturopathic Doctors are regulated health professionals in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario with:
• 3 years of premedical undergraduate educational requirements
• 4 years of naturopathic medical college
• International and local licensing examination requirements

Among the different tools to treat the “why” are:
• Clinical nutrition
• Botanical medicine
• Chinese medicine and acupuncture
• Naturopathic manipulation
• Lifestyle counseling
• Hydrotherapy
• Infusion (intravenous) Therapy

Naturopathic Medicine and Colorectal Cancer

Naturopathic medicine is an important part of Colorectal Cancer Care. Over the past 2 decades research has shown how integrative therapies can improve cancer patient treatment outcomes. Naturopathic medicine offers therapies that support the individual throughout their cancer journey. Some of the potential benefits include:

1. Reduction in the risk of initially developing colorectal cancer
2. Supporting tolerability and treatment response with patients undergoing conventional cancer treatment including chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgery
3. Promoting patient’s return to optimal health and prevention of recurrence once cancer has been successfully treated

Supportive naturopathic cancer care has undergone tremendous growth and evolution over the past 2 decades. Recently, Dr. Eric Marsden ND, was the lead author on a publication outlining the principles of care guidelines for naturopathic cancer care which was published in Current Oncology in February of 2019.


The Ostomy Canada Society is a non-profit volunteer organization in Canada dedicated to all people with an ostomy, and their families, helping them to live life to the fullest through support, education, collaboration and advocacy.

The following content has been furnished by the Ostomy Canada Society.  Additional content may be accessed from their website on support and services.

Please click on the following link to visit a host of services on support and education throughout Canada: https://www.ostomycanada.ca/