Diverticulosis of the large intestine. The large intestine on the right is healthy. The organ on the left shows diverticula on the left side.

Shier-Butler-Lewis: I V. Absorption and I 17. Digestive System I I © The McGraw-Hill

Human Anatomy and Excretion Companies, 2001

Physiology, Ninth Edition

Clinical Application

complications such as cancer are atypical. Surgery is often used to treat inflammatory bowel disease. The cause or causes of inflammatory bowel disease aren't known with certainty, but may involve autoimmunity, a genetic predisposition, or even a bacterial infection.

colorectal Cancer

Cancer of the large intestine or rectum, known as colorectal cancer, is the fourth most prevalent cancer in the United States, and the second most common cause of cancer death. More than 30,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, and more than 56,000 people die of the condi

Disorders of the Large Intestine (continued )

tion. Put another way, an individual faces a 1 in 18 lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer. However, the condition does tend to run in families.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

• a change in frequency or consistency of bowel movements

• a narrowing of feces

• abdominal discomfort or pain

• unexplained vomiting

Several diagnostic tests can detect colorectal cancer, described in figure 17C and table 17A. These tests

Diagnostic Test


Digital rectal exam

Physician palpates large intestine and rectum.

Double contrast

X-ray exam following ingestion of contrast agent

barium enema

highlights blockages in large intestine

Fecal occult blood

Blood detected in feces sample


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