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Colon Carcinoma at 20x Magnification

The vast majority of colon cancers arise from the glandular cells lining the wall of the organ, in which case they are classified as a special type of carcinoma known as adenocarcinomas. Colon cancers can also originate in other cell types, such as those that comprise the connective tissue that supports the colorectal wall or those that are specialized for producing hormones. Each year in the United States about 50,000 people die from colon cancer, making it one of the leading causes of cancer-related death in the country. In some other parts of the world, such as Asia and Africa, colon cancer is much less common, a fact often attributed to the Western diet, which tends too be high in fat and low in fiber. Statistics indicate that in countries whose inhabitants are increasingly eating like Americans colon cancer rates are rising.

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