Colon-Rectal Cancer Program
What is it?
Colorectal cancer is cancer cells growing in the colon (large intestine) or rectum, the two areas of the body that make up the large bowel and the last part of the digestive tract. Colorectal cancer is a common form of the disease.
Causes, Symptoms & Risk Factors
The causes of colorectal cancer remain unknown, although it seems rooted in genetic an environmental factors. Diet—particularly one that is high in fat and low in fiber—seems to be a key cause of this type of cancer. People who are frequently constipated are also at risk. There also is a strong link between family history and colorectal cancer, as those from families with history of colorectal cancer of colon polyps are at particular risk. Other risk factors for colorectal cancer include:
- Age (older than 50)
- Genetic abnormalities
- Ulcerative colitis
- Intestinal polyps
- Inactive lifestyle
- Excessive use of alcohol
Often, patients suffering from colorectal cancer experience no symptoms in the disease's early stages. As it progresses, patients may experience:
- Stomach pain Changes to bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Bloody or tar-like stools
- Unexplained weight loss
Tests, Procedures and Treatments
A doctor will perform a physical examination, review symptoms with the patient and perform testing for colorectal cancer that can include:
- Testing for blood in the stool
- CT scans
The treatments of colorectal cancer include:
- Surgery to remove the cancerous growth
- Colostomy, during which the surgeon diverts the contents of the bowel around the area of the bowel where the cancer was removed during surgery. Colostomies can be either temporary or permanent.
- Radiation therapy