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Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Worldwide, cancer of the colon and rectum is the third leading cause of cancer in males and the fourth leading cause of cancer in females according to the American Cancer Society. Colorectal cancer occurs in both men and women and is most often found among people who are over the age of 50. Colorectal refers to the colon and rectum, which together make up the large intestine. Colorectal cancer can originate anywhere in the large intestines. The majority of colorectal cancers develop first as polyps, abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may become cancerous.  

 

What Causes Colorectal Cancer?

The exact cause of most colorectal cancers is not yet known, however, quite often colorectal cancers occur in people with no known risk factors. Most cases of colorectal cancer begin as small growths, or polyps, inside the colon or rectum. People are more likely to develop colorectal cancer if they are older than 50, have a family history of this cancer, or have rare inherited colon cancer syndromes.

Risk Factors

Who is at Risk to Develop Colorectal Cancer?

  • Colorectal cancer occurs in men and women of all racial and ethnic groups. African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the United States.
  • Most colorectal cancers are diagnosed in people aged 50 years or older. The risk for developing colorectal cancer increases with age.
  • A family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps increases a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer. Approximately 20 percent of people who develop colorectal cancer have other family members who have been affected by the disease.
  • Certain diseases of the intestines, including inflammatory bowel disease, can increase the risk for colorectal cancer.  

Is There Anything I Can Do to Reduce My Risk for Colorectal Cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, if everyone got tested for colorectal cancer, tens of thousands of lives could be saved each year. 

What are Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?

Your risk of developing colon cancer is about 1 in 20. Symptoms often do not appear until later stages of the disease, so do not delay in meeting with your doctor. If you are experiencing any of these signs, schedule a consultation with our highly skilled surgeons today. Colorectal cancer develops with few, if any symptoms at first. If symptoms are present, they may include:
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Feeling that your bowel does not empty completely
  • Blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool
  • Stools that are narrower than usual 
  • Frequently having gas pains or cramps, or feeling full or bloated 
  • Weight loss with no known reason 
  • Feeling tired all the time 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
Most often, these symptoms are not due to cancer. Other health problems can also cause them. Talk to your doctor. Usually, early cancer does not cause pain, so it is important to not wait to feel pain before seeing a doctor. When colorectal cancer is detected early, it can have a 90 percent or better cure rate.

Prevention

Can Colorectal Cancer Be Prevented?

There is strong scientific evidence that having regular screening tests for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50 reduces deaths from colorectal cancer. Screening tests, also known as a colonoscopy, can find precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon and rectum, and polyps can be removed before they turn into cancer. In this way, colorectal cancer is prevented. Besides getting colorectal screenings as recommended, there are other steps you can take to lower your risk for colorectal cancer including:
  • Increase your physical activity
  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods and limit your intake of red meat
  • Stop smoking – tobacco use raises your risk for colon cancer
  • Maintain a healthy diet, weight and active lifestyle
  • Get screened early. We offer free* colon screenings for patients 50 years of age and older!

Early Detection and Screening

How is Colorectal Cancer Diagnosed and Treated?

Cancer of the colon is a highly treatable and often curable disease when localized to the bowel. It is the second most frequently diagnosed malignancy in the United States, as well as the second most common cause of cancer death. Surgery is the primary treatment. When detected early, colorectal cancer can be effectively treated, even cured. The Longstreet Clinic, P.C. is pleased to welcome Dr. Fernando Aycinena, a fellowship trained Board-certified colorectal surgeon to our team. Our surgeons have expert experience treating colorectal cancer with laparoscopic and robotic surgery techniques.

The Board-certified physicians and surgeons at The Longstreet Clinic, P.C. are here to care for you and help ensure that your risks of colon cancer are minimal. Should you be diagnosed, our team will lead you every step of the way and guide you through this disease. Contact The Department of General Surgery today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Aycinena or any of the TLC surgeons!
 
*As required by the Affordable Care Act, most commercial insurance plans now provide coverage for preventive care including age/risk-appropriate screenings such as colonoscopies.