DR. E. WALKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR. E. WALKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Rectal carcinoma. Cross section of the rectum showing invasive carcinoma. The yellow and whitish malignant masses have broken through the muscular wall of the gut round most of the circumference of the rectum. The most common type of cancer of the rectocolon is adenocarcinoma; development of this tumour is associated with existing (premalignant) polyps. Adenocarcinoma commonly presents as an ulcer-like mass, typically deep with an irregular edge. Untreated the cancer may cause severe bleeding or blockage of the intestine, and it may spread to other organs. In most cases surgery is required. The cause of rectal cancer is unclear but dietary and genetic factors are implicated.
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