What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is a form of cancer that begins in the colon, also known as the large intestine. It occurs when cells grow and divide excessively in the colon. Many colorectal cancers begin as small precancerous colorectal polyps that develop slowly into cancer.
Some people may not experience any symptoms in the early stages of colon cancer. However, when symptoms do appear, they can vary depending on the size and location of the cancer. Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer may consist of:
- A change in bowel habits such as constipation, diarrhea or consistency of stool.
- Prolonged and sometimes severe abdominal discomfort
- Rectal bleeding or bloody stools
- Unexplained weight loss
How is Colorectal Cancer Diagnosed at South Denver GI?
Regular colorectal cancer screening tests in people of average risk should start at age 45 and be performed every 10 years thereafter, if the screening is normal. However, people with a personal or family history of cancer or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may undergo screening earlier in life due to their increased risk of colorectal problems.
There are several screening tests that can be used to detect colorectal cancer in Denver. These may include a colonoscopy to detect polyps or cancer, a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) to test for blood in the stool, a fecal DNA test to detect genetic mutations and blood in the stool, a flexible sigmoidoscopy to look for polyps inside the rectum and lower colon or a double contract barium enema, in which the colon and rectum are examined through an X-ray.
If you are having symptoms associated with colorectal cancer or if your screening test shows something abnormal, your doctor may recommend blood tests, imaging tests such as CT scans or MRI, a diagnostic colonoscopy or a proctoscopy to diagnose colorectal cancer.
Colon Cancer Treatment Options
Treatment options for colorectal cancer will be based on the stage or severity of the cancer. The stages of colon cancer are determined by Roman numerals ranging from 0-IV and are categorized by the depth of the cancer in the intestine wall.
The disease in lesions in stage 0 remains within the lining of the colon or rectum. Removal of these lesions may be all that is needed for treatment.
These cancers have grown into the wall of the intestine, but have not yet spread deeper or into the lymph nodes. Treatment includes a colon resection, in which the affected areas of the colon or lymph nodes are removed.
Stage II colorectal cancer is separated into three stages; the first stage is IIA, the second stage is IIB and the third stage is IIC. In all stage II lesions, the cancer has not reached the lymph nodes yet. Usually, treatment for this stage involves surgical resection followed by chemotherapy.
Stage III colorectal cancer is an advanced stage of cancer, and the disease has spread to the lymph nodes. There are three stages of stage III cancer, including stage IIA, IIB and IIC. Treatment for stage III colon cancer includes surgery and chemotherapy.
Stage IV colorectal cancer has spread to other organs such as the liver or lungs. This stage is also split into three stages, including IVA, IVB and IVC. Treatment includes relieving symptoms and preventing complications.
Colorectal Cancer FAQs
How common are colon polyps?
Polyps are very common, affecting about 2 in 4 adults. While most polyps are not harmful, some will eventually develop into cancer. Removing polyps via colonoscopy therefore prevents colorectal cancer by interrupting the natural history of cancer formation. and do not become cancerous. Still, there is a small risk of polyps developing into cancer and they should be checked regularly during a Routine colonoscopy screening at our Ridgeview Endoscopy Center, Castle Rock Endoscopy Center or South Denver Endoscopy Center is the best approach to detect and remove polyps and prevent colorectal cancer.
What are the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer?
Some of the signs and symptoms of colorectal (colon and rectal) cancer may include a distinct change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, persistent cramps, and abdominal or pelvic pain. Early cancers tend to be asymptomatic but can be diagnosed with a colonoscopy. If you are experiencing any unusual symptoms, contact our Lone Tree, Englewood, Castle Rock or Parker office to schedule an appointment with one of our gastroenterologists.
Is colorectal cancer curable?
When caught in the early stages, colorectal cancer is highly treatable and can even be cured. Colonoscopy is the best way to detect and prevent colorectal cancer. For a colonoscopy, call our Lone Tree, Englewood, Castle Rock, or Parker, CO office to schedule a consultation today.
Is colorectal cancer preventable?
Yes! Colorectal cancer is one of the few types of preventable cancers due to removal of pre-cancerous polyps via colonoscopy by our highly trained gastroenterologists. Don’t delay you screening colonoscopy. It is a day in your life that could save your life.
What is a polyp?
A polyp (adenoma) is a noncancerous but pre-cancerous group of cells that forms in the colon. Polyps are initially benign, but if not removed these cells can become cancerous. During a colonoscopy, a gastroenterologist will use a flexible scope with a camera to view the entire colon and rectum, screening for and removing any pre-cancerous polyps. It is important to know a doctor’s adenoma detection rate (ADR) prior to scheduling a colonoscopy. For every 1% increase in the physician’s ADR, there is a 3% decrease in the odds of the patient developing colorectal cancer over the next decade. At South Denver GI, our 25 gastroenterologists consistently achieve colon polyp detection rates that significantly exceed national benchmarks.
What causes colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer tends to begin when healthy cells in the colon develop a series of DNA mutations. When this happens, the cells continue to divide, grow abnormally and eventually form a tumor. Over time, these cells can take over healthy tissue and spread to other parts of the body. To ensure we’re catching any colorectal cancer before it progresses to later stages, call one of our locations in Lone Tree, Englewood, Castle Rock or Parker, CO to schedule a colonoscopy today.
Who is at risk of colorectal cancer?
Older people, African Americans, those with a personal or family history of polyps or colorectal cancer, people who eat low-fiber and high-fat diets, and anyone with an inflammatory intestinal condition are at greater risk for colorectal cancer. Rates of colorectal cancer have been increasing among younger adults. That’s why the recommended age for colorectal cancer screening has been changed to age 45. All adults should begin routine screening at this age.
How is colorectal cancer detected?
Colorectal cancer is often first detected during a colonoscopy. That’s why screening is recommended beginning at age 45 and above—for everyone. If signs and symptoms indicate that colorectal cancer may be a concern, your doctor will order blood tests and a colonoscopy will be performed. Any polyps are found during the exam will be removed and examined to determine if they are cancerous. If you’re due for a colonoscopy, call South Denver Gastroenterology today. We’re happy to help you at our Lone Tree, Englewood, Castle Rock or Parker, CO clinics.
How do you prevent colon cancer?
Some studies suggest that physical activity, low alcohol consumption, eating a diet high in fiber and low in fat, and keeping a stable, healthy weight can help to prevent colorectal cancer. It’s important to remember that a colonoscopy is the only test that can prevent and detect cancer. A colonoscopy is considered the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening and prevention.
How common is colorectal cancer?
According to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and the third most common cancer overall. Approximately 25% of the U.S. population is considered at risk for colorectal cancer due to their age or other risk factors. If you’re 45 years of age or older, you are due for a colonoscopy, there is no better time to schedule one with South Denver GI today.
Your South Denver GI Team
At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Colorectal Cancer or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!
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