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Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in men and women. It includes both cancers of the colon and the rectum. Most colorectal cancer begins as polyps, which are abnormal growths of tissue cells. Typically, polyps are benign. But over time, they can develop into cancer. While colon and rectal cancers are similar in many ways, their treatments are different.

colorectal cancer

Colon screening is recommended every 10 years, with the possibility of increased frequency if there is a higher chance of developing colon cancer, e.g., noncancerous colon polyps are found. Because a colonoscopy is not a particularly pleasant experience, people delay screening. This is extremely risky. Regular screenings save lives!

Causes

People with a family history of colorectal cancer have a higher risk of developing it. Other risk factors are:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Diet high in fat and refined carbohydrates
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Older age, although rates are increasing among those under 50
  • History of inflammatory bowel disease
  • History of noncancerous colon polyps
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammatory intestinal conditions, e.g., ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease
  • African-American race

Symptoms

Many do not experience symptoms in the early disease stages, which is why regular screenings are essential.  Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:

  • Change in bowel habits, e.g., diarrhea, constipation, change in stool consistency
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, e.g., cramps, gas, pain
  • Feeling that bowel doesn’t empty completely
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

Symptoms of rectal cancer include:

  • Change in bowel habits, e.g., diarrhea, constipation, frequency
  • Dark maroon or bright red blood in stool
  • Narrow stool
  • Feeling that bowel doesn’t empty completely
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

Diagnosis 

Cancer can be discovered during a colonoscopy screening test for colorectal cancer. If any suspicious areas are present, tissue samples are taken for analysis. 

Treatment

Surgery for early-stage colon cancer includes:

  • Polypectomy – Polyps are removed during a colonoscopy. A wire loop is passed through the colonoscope and placed around the base of the polyp. An electrical current is passed through the wire to sever the polyp from the colon wall.
  • Local Excision – Just like a polypectomy, this procedure removes harmful polyps. The main difference is the local excision removes part of the colon tissue. This is only necessary when cancer has begun to affect the colon lining. This minimally invasive technique is performed without making incisions in the abdomen which allows patients to recover more quickly and lowers the risk of complications.

A colectomy is performed for more advanced colon cancer when a substantial part of the colon, or the entire colon, needs to be removed.

  • Partial Colectomy – Also known as a Segmental Resection, this removes a portion of the colon. After the necessary tissue has been removed, the surgeon will attach the remaining ends of the colon to one another.
  • Total Colectomy – This removes the entire colon and is used to treat more chronic conditions like ulcerative colitis or familial adenomatous polyposis.

When a colectomy is performed, nearby lymph nodes are also removed and tested for cancer.

Treatment options include targeted therapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery to remove the rectum and nearby lymph nodes, or a combination of these options depending on the type of cancer and how far it has advanced.

Treatment of Rectal Cancer

If rectal cancer is detected early, a transanal local excision can be performed through the anus without an incision to the abdomen.

Rectal resection surgery can also be performed in which our surgeons remove the diseased section of the rectum, plus nearby lymph nodes. This is called a low anterior resection. After removing the diseased section, the two healthy parts of the intestine are reattached. We utilize a minimally invasive approach to speed recovery and minimize complications versus traditional open surgery performed through an abdominal incision. There are two surgery options:

  • Robotic-assisted surgery  – Made possible with da Vinci® technology, fewer, smaller incisions are made for insertion of surgical equipment and a camera for viewing to complete the procedure.
  • Laparoscopic – Again, using small incisions, long-handled tools are inserted to perform surgery while viewing magnified images from the laparoscope (camera) on a video screen.

Following either surgery, these subsequent treatments may also be prescribed: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or targeted drug therapy.   

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Gladstone Office

6060 North Oak Trafficway
Suite 101
Gladstone, MO 64118
Phone: (816) 941-0800

Leawood Office

4370 W 109th St.
#350
Overland Park, KS 66211
Phone: (816) 941-0800

Overland Park Office

10100 W 87th St.
Suite 200
Overland Park, KS 66212
Phone: (816) 941-0800

Independence Office

19550 E 39th St
Suite 320
Independence, MO 64057
Phone: (816) 941-0800

Lee’s Summit

1980 SE Blue Parkway
Suite 2330
Lee’s Summit, MO 64063
Phone: (816) 941-0800