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Colorectal Cancer

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Colorectal cancer is cancer of the large intestine and rectum. Normal cells in the colon can sometimes grow abnormally forming non-cancerous polyps. Overtime, however, the polyps can become cancerous if they are not removed.

Symptoms

The polyps are typically small and you may not experience any symptoms. However, you may notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Unexplained fatigue

Causes and Risk Factors

Colorectal cancer most often begins as polyps on the inside lining of the colon. Polyps can appear bulb-shaped but precancerous growths can also be flat or recessed into the wall of the colon.

Colorectal cancer can affect anyone, however more than 90% of the patients are over age 40.

Other risk factors include:

  • African-American race
  • History of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Inflammatory intestinal conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease
  • Genetic syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome)
  • Family history of colon cancer and colon polyps
  • Low-fiber, high-fat diet
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Radiation therapy for other cancers

Diagnostic Tests

Colorectal cancer has a high cure rate if detected early. Your best prevention is to undergo routine screenings.

However, if you experience any of the above symptoms, there are diagnostic tests your doctor will recommend. Your doctor will start with a complete medical history to determine the frequency and duration of your symptoms.

Your doctor may also perform additional tests to aid in diagnosis including:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood test
  • Testing the stool for blood
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy to inspect the lower bowel
  • Barium enema and X-ray
  • CT scan
  • Biopsy of suspect tissue

Treatment and Procedures

If colorectal cancer is detected and treated early, 80-90% of patients will return to normal health. Surgery to remove the cancer is necessary nearly all cases. Radiation and chemotherapy are sometimes used in addition to surgery.

Today’s technology and skilled surgeons adept at the surgical construction of an artificial excretory opening from the colon, have reduced the need for colostomy to less than 5% of patients.

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States even though it is potentially curable if diagnosed and treated early which is why doctors recommend routine screening.

Your health is our greatest concern. Please contact the Center for Colon & Rectal Surgery at 407.303.2615for a private consultation today.