What is colorectal cancer?
When cancer starts in the colon or rectum, it is called colorectal cancer. It is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and second leading cause of cancer-related deaths.* However, colorectal cancer is easily prevented through regular screening colonoscopies and highly curable if detected in its early stages.
What are the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer?
Signs and symptoms include:
- Change of bowel habits
- Rectal bleeding
- Blood in stool
What are the risk factors of colorectal cancer?
Although we do not know exactly what causes colorectal cancer, research has found some risk factors contributing to colorectal cancer. Staying physically active, eating a healthy diet low in red and processed meat and high in fiber, staying close to your ideal body weight, and not smoking may help lower your risk.
Some risk factors include:
- Getting older
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Family history
- Specific inherited syndromes (Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) or Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (HCPCC), which is also known as Lynch Syndrome
How is colorectal cancer detected and prevented?
Colorectal cancer usually does not show many symptoms in its early stages. Colorectal screening through regular colonoscopies is the best way to prevent colorectal cancer. During a colonoscopy, your physician can remove polyps, which could grow and become cancer. Your physician also can examine the bowel for any other masses or lesions that maybe cancerous. You should also pay attention to any changes in bowel habits, blood in your stool, unexplained weight loss, or abdominal pain as these may all be signs of colorectal cancer and you should talk with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
People at average risk should get a colonoscopy at age 50 and then repeat at least every seven to 10 years, depending on the results. You should consider having a stool test, which consists of fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT), every year. This can be done in your physician’s office, in a clinic or using at-home kit.
People at higher risk, because of a family history of colon cancer or other diseases, should start being screened at age 40 (or 10 years before youngest family member was diagnosed) and then screened at least every five years or sooner depending on the test results.
To schedule your colonoscopy at a Parkview location near you call (877) 870-0301.
How is colorectal cancer treated?
Parkview has some of the latest colorectal cancer treatment options available. You and your physician can discuss the best treatment plan for you.
Early colorectal cancers are normally contained within the colon and do not spread outside of the colon. These types of cancers can be removed during colonoscopies or through bowel resection surgery.
A bowel resection surgery is completed through an open laparoscopy and using the daVinci® Robotic System. A surgeon can remove cancer in the colon by removing the part of the colon with the cancer and then putting the colon back together. Chemotherapy and radiation also may be used. If colorectal cancer is caught early, 80 to 90 people of people can go on to lead a normal, healthy life.*
In later stages of colorectal cancer only 50 percent of patients can be cured.* For treatment, most people still will have surgery to remove tumors in the colon, but in these stages the cancer has spread outside of the colon to other parts of the body. Patients usually need chemotherapy and/or radiation in addition to surgery.
Some patients (less than 5 percent) will undergo a colostomy or ileostomy, which is the surgical creation of an opening on the abdomen, which allows stool to empty into a bag.*
*Information provided by the American Cancer Society.