The colon is the part of the large intestine that connects to the rectum. It removes water from digested food and lets the remaining material – solid waste called stool – move through it to the rectum and exit the body through the anus.

The colon is about 5 feet in length. It goes up (the ascending colon) on the right side of the abdomen, across the abdomen (the transverse colon), and down (the descending colon) on the left side of the abdomen, making a sharp turn in the left lower portion (the sigmoid colon) to merge with the rectum.

The colon is susceptible to several problems, the most severe of which is colon cancer. However, other problems can occur that result in painful symptoms. Many of these diseases can be treated successfully or prevented altogether. That’s why regular screening is so important.