Colorectal Cancer

The colon and the rectum are part of the body's digestive system, which removes nutrients from food and stores waste until it passes out of the body. The colon and rectum form a long muscular tube called the large intestine. The colon is the first 6 feet of the large intestine and the rectum is the last 8-10 inches.

Conditions and Diseases of the large intestine:

  • Polyps
  • Inflamatory bowel disease
  • Diverticular disease.
  • Irritible bowel syndrome.
  • Colorectal Cancer.

Facts about Colorectal Cancer

  • Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States
  • Many Colorectal cancer deaths can be prevented through regular screening tests
  • Colorectal cancer can develop with no initial symptoms.

Risk factors for colorectal cancer:

  • Age
  • Diet.
  • Smoking.
  • Lack of exercise.
  • Polyps.
  • Family history of polyps.
  • Inflamatory bowel disease.
  • Family history of colorectal cancer.

Warning Signs:

  • A change in bowel habits: diarrhea, constipation or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely.
  • Blood in the stool.
  • Stools that narrow or that are unusual.
  • Frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness or cramps.
  • Weight loss with no known reason.
  • Constant tiredness or fatigue.
  • Vomiting

Screening for colorectal cancer:

  • Stool blood test.
  • Digital rectal examination.

If either of these tests are abnormal, additional testing will be required for proper diagnosis.

What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is an examination of the rectum and the entire colon using a lighted instrument called a colonscope. This allows the doctor to see inside the rectum and the entire colon and remove polyps or other abnormal tissue for examination under a microscope (a biopsy).

Who should be screened?

All average risk adults aged 40 years or older should have an annual digital rectal examination.

All average risk adults aged 50 and older should have:

  • Annual stool blood test.
  • Annual digital rectral examination.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years.
  • Total colon examination by Colonoscopy ever 10 years or by barium X-ray every 5-10 years

Adults at higher risk (those with a family history of polyps), aged 40 and above should have:

  • Annual stool blood test.
  • Annual digital rectal examination
  • Total colon examination by colonoscopy every 2 years.