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What is a Descending Colon?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The descending colon is part of the large intestine. The large intestine includes the vermiform appendix, the cecum and the colon. The descending colon is part of the colon, which is made up of several parts. They include the ascending colon, hepatic flexure, transverse colon, splenic flexure, descending colon, and sigmoid colon. This part of the colon passes down through the upper back portion of the abdomen and along the side of the left kidney.

The large intestine functions as a reservoir for liquid that is deposited from the small intestine. The large intestine is responsible for the absorption of water and other substances, such as salts. It also stores waste until it can be removed from the body when a person has a bowel movement. As food moves through the intestinal tract, water is absorbed by the large intestine. This causes the waste to leave the body in solid form.

It is important to maintain good colon health, as there are several diseases associated with the descending colon. Among the most common are ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and colon cancer. Ulcerative colitis can affect any part of the colon, but when it affects the descending colon, it is called left-sided colitis. Inflammation and ulcers on the lining of the intestine mark its presence. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include diarrhea, bleeding, fever, abdominal pain, too much mucus in fecal material, and appetite and weight loss. Treatment methods can vary widely, ranging from changes in diet to corrective surgery, depending on the severity of the condition and the overall health of the patient.

When a person has Crohn’s disease or Crohn’s colitis, he has sores on the tissues of the intestine, and this makes it difficult for the intestine to absorb water and salt. The symptoms that may develop from this disease include abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation, nausea and vomiting, fever, blood in the stool, weight loss, abscesses and fatigue. There is no cure for Crohn’s disease. Only dietary changes can help to make the symptoms less severe.

Cancer of this portion of the colon is the most serious of the diseases. A person can have colon cancer yet have no symptoms in the early stages. As such, regular colorectal examinations are necessary for catching the disease in its early stages. However, there are some signs that can indicate colon cancer. These symptoms include abrupt changes in bowel habits, bleeding from the rectum, black stools, frequent constipation, and mucus in the stools. Treatment options depend on the stage of the cancer and the overall health of the patient.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By anon241732 — On Jan 19, 2012

My wife was just diagnosed with colon cancer. They will remove the descending and re-attach it.

By galen84basc — On Aug 12, 2010

What I've always wondered is how somebody can go on with their life as normal after colon cancer surgery.

I mean, don't they have to remove a large part of the bowel for that? I know that there's a lot of bowel down there, but I can't imagine that healing very easily or very well.

I suppose there are precautions they take for that kind of thing, but I've just never understood how it can work out well.

By pharmchick78 — On Aug 12, 2010

@CopperPipe -- Colon pain is one of the common descending colon cancer symptoms, but by itself it isn't enough to make a diagnosis.

Colon pain can also be a sign of other colon diseases, like Crohn's disease or IBS, so you should have your doctor check it out regardless.

This is especially true if you are experiencing other symptoms, like blood in your stool, problems excreting stools, or nausea and loss of appetite. Diarrhea can also be a sign of colon problems.

Either way, have your doctor check it out. A colonoscopy isn't the most fun thing in the world, but it beats the pants off of cancer!

By CopperPipe — On Aug 12, 2010

Is colon pain one of the symptoms of colon cancer?

I sometimes have pain in my gut, and it feels like it's around the colon, but I don't know if it's just colon polyps or something else entirely.

Does anybody know?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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