Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 95,520 new cases of colon cancer and 39,910 new cases of rectal cancer in 2017.
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Most colorectal cancers start as a growth, called a polyp, in the inner lining of the colon or rectum and slowly progresses through the other layers. Removing a noncancerous polyp early can keep it from becoming a cancerous tumor, which is why screening is such an important tool for preventing this disease.
Colorectal Cancer Symptoms
Colorectal cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms. It’s important to get screened regularly.
If you do have symptoms, they may include:
- Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that don’t go away
- Weakness and fatigue
- Rectal bleeding
- Blood in stool
- Unintended weight loss
If you develop symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor immediately.
Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors
Your risk for developing colorectal cancer increases as you get older. Younger adults can get colorectal cancer, but more than 90% of cases occur in people who are 50 years old or older.
Other risk factors include:
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Personal or Family History of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps
- Tobacco use
- Heavy alcohol use
- Your racial and ethnic background
- Type 2 diabetes
- Lack of regular physical activity
- A diet low in fruits and vegetables
- A low-fiber and high-fat diet
- Overweight and obesity
Colorectal Cancer Screenings
Several tests are used to detect colorectal cancers, one of the most commonly used tests is a colonoscopy. During this test, the doctor uses a colonoscope (a thin tube with a small video camera on the end) to look at the entire length of the colon and rectum. Special instruments can be passed through the colonoscope to biopsy or remove any suspicious-looking polyps.
Other tests include:
- Double-contrast barium enema (DCBE)
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy)
- Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT)
- Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
- Stool DNA test
When should I get screened?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that adults age 50 to 75 get screened for colorectal cancer. Adults age 76 to 85 should ask their doctor if they should be tested. However, you may need to get screened earlier than 50 if you meet certain risk factors.
If you believe you are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer, talk with your doctor to determine how often you should be tested and what screening is right for you.
Colorectal Cancer Treatments
There are many ways to treat colorectal cancer depending on its type and stage.
- Some treatments may include local therapies such as: surgery, radiation therapy, ablation or embolization
- These treatments are often used for earlier stage cancers
- Systematic treatments including chemotherapy and targeted therapy may be used because they can reach cancer cells anywhere in the body
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, please call 404-778-1900 or 888-946-7447 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.
Winship Cancer Care
Your Winship multidisciplinary care team includes oncology surgeons, colorectal surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, pharmacists, nutritionists, social workers and advanced practice nurses with expertise in colorectal and gastrointestinal cancers. The benefits of our multidisciplinary and highly experienced teams include:
- Access to doctors and surgeons who rank among the top colorectal cancer experts in the world
- Weekly review of patient cases by the full team of experts
- Coordinated scheduling for appointments among various specialties
- Access to a nurse navigator to assist you throughout the treatment process
- Access to support groups and education classes for you and your caregivers
- Availability of new treatment options within our clinical trials program
Bio – Dr. Seth Rosen
Dr. Seth Rosen is a board certified colon and rectal surgeon. He’s an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at Emory University School of Medicine. As chair of Emory Healthcare’s Robotic Institute Committee, Dr. Rosen leads a team that is tracking utilization of robotic surgery throughout Emory Healthcare, including outcomes, quality, cost, and efficiency; identifying areas for improvement; and initiating plans based on its recommendations.
Dr. Rosen is a Fellow of The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons and a current member of the Medical Association of Georgia.
He’s also a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.