Need to Know: Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer or rectal cancer, is a type of cancer that affects the colon and rectum, which are part of the large intestine. It is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States.

Risk factors for colorectal cancer include age (it is most commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 50), a family history of the disease, and certain medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and polyps in the colon or rectum.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer can include changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, and weight loss. However, many of these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so it is important to see a doctor if you are experiencing any of them.

Screening is the most effective way to detect colorectal cancer in its early stages, when it is most treatable. It’s recommended that people at average risk begin regular screening at age 45 (or earlier if they have a family history of the disease). Screening options include a colonoscopy, a stool test, and a virtual colonoscopy.

If colorectal cancer is detected early, treatment options include surgery to remove the tumor and/or chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In advanced cases, treatment may focus on controlling symptoms and prolonging survival.

Preventing colorectal cancer involves making lifestyle changes such as eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. It is also important to avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Overall, colorectal cancer is a serious disease that affects a large number of people in the United States and around the world. But with early detection and treatment, it is possible to beat the disease and lead a normal life. If you are over the age of 45 or have a family history of colorectal cancer, it is important to talk to your doctor about screening options and to make lifestyle changes that can help reduce your risk of developing the disease.

If you are facing a colon cancer diagnosis, schedule an appointment with a Clearview Cancer Institute physician to come up with an individualized treatment plan.