|MadSci Network: Medicine|
Dear Ms. Blodgett, Sorry for the delay in my answer. The answer to your question is relatively simple. Cancer is basically a cell gone wild. When these cells go wild it entails rapid growth. Cancer cells can infiltate regular cells, pushing them out of the way. In this way cancer cells can grow through the wall of a colon into the peritoneal (abdominal) cavity, the pelvis, or another organ such as the bladder or vagina. Because of the rapid growth of these cancer cells, they often outgrow their blood supply. When this happens, the cells that are not receiving enough blood will begin to die. If the cells that die are in a part of the cancer that connects one section or organ of the body to another, a fistula (abnormal opening or connection) can form. This is very dangerous to the patient because fecal matter is made up of mostly bacteria by the time it reaches the colon and infection can then occur. A fistula can also occur from an organ to the surface of the body. I hope this answers your question. Thank you for your interest in science. Sincerely, Sarah Martin Mason Tulane University School of Medicine
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