Colorectal cancer, cancer that begins in either the colon or the rectum, is the 2nd most common cancer in the United States. Colon cancer affects the large intestine of the digestive tract (the colon), while rectal cancer is located in the last several inches of the colon. When discussed together, these conditions are referred to as colorectal cancers. Colorectal cancer often forms slowly, over the course of several years, when a polyp (non-cancerous growth) becomes present on the lining of the rectum or colon. What’s most astonishing is the fact that this disease is thought of to be preventable, yet has the 2nd highest rate of incidence. This is why colonoscopy is such an important tool in the prevention of colorectal cancer. By using screening colonoscopies, a physician can detect pre-malignant polyps and remove them before the cells become cancerous.
Adenomatous polyps are what develop into cancerous tumors and are seen as a pre-cancerous condition. And while inflammatory polyps are generally benign, it is still important for your doctor to monitor. If the tumor were to continue to grow into the wall of the colon or rectum, it can potentially get into the lumph vessels or blood and metastasize, spreading to other areas of the body.
Early cancers and polyps do not generally cause any symptoms, which is why screening (colonoscopy) is so important in preventing this disease. When symptoms do develop, the most common symptoms are rectal bleeding and changes in bowel habits such as constipation or diarrhea. Some patients with more advanced forms of the disease may also experience abdominal pain, weakness or fatigue, nausea, vomiting, or sudden weight loss.
The primary symptom of a hernia is a soft bulge or protuberance somewhere around the abdomen. A bump in the groin or scrotum area, around the pubic bone, is a common sign of an inguinal hernia. The lump sometimes goes away when pushed or when the person lies down. If it doesn’t, the case may be more serious and may require immediate surgery.
People may experience pain or discomfort in the affected area, particularly when lifting, bending, or coughing. Hernia pain is somewhat common but not universal; often a bulge appears without any unwanted sensations. Signs of strangulation include nausea, vomiting, and the sudden onset of pain. Anyone who feels these symptoms should call a doctor and discuss their options.
Colonoscopy is the best tool for screening and preventing colorectal cancer. With early detection and removal of pre-cancerous polyps, colorectal cancer can be prevented altogether. If at the type of colonoscopy polyps are found, the chance of future cancer does increase. Therefore, it is recommended that a patient then has routine colonoscopies every 3 – 5 years instead of every 10. Like most all cancer-related diseases, early detection is key! Do not put off getting your colonoscopy. If you notice any change in your bowel habits, have experienced sudden and unexpected weight loss, and/or experience rectal bleeding, make an appointment for a private consultation with one of our renowned colorectal specialist in our office.
The treatment process for rectal cancer is heavily dependent on how far the tumor has penetrated into the wall of the rectum. After you have been diagnosed it is likely that several tests including a CEA blood level, CT scan or PET scan of your chest, abdomen, and pelvis will be ordered to analyze if cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Usually, an in-office exam will also be conducted to assess how close the tumor is relative to the anus and sphincter muscles. In addition, a rectal ultrasound or pelvic MRI may also be performed to determine how deep the tumor has penetrated and to see if any lymph nodes have been invaded. For cancers affecting the lower portion of the rectum, a sphincter-sparing surgery may be an option if cancer has not affected the sphincter muscles. In certain cases, when the anal sphincter muscles are affected by the tumor, removal of the entire anus and rectum may be necessary in order to ensure the highest possibility for a cure.
The treatments for colon cancer and rectal cancer are somewhat different. After you are diagnosed with colon cancer, your physicians may order several tests including blood (CEA level) and imaging tests (typically CT scan or PET scan of your abdomen and pelvis). If your cancer appears to be early stage, then surgery is the next step. This involves removal of the involved segment of colon along with the mesentery containing the lymph nodes and reconnection of the bowel. In most cases, this can be accomplished by minimally invasive surgery such as laparoscopy or robotic-assisted surgery. At the Surgery Group of LA Dr. Yosef Nasseri is one of the most sought-after and highly skilled robotic colorectal surgeons, utilizing the latest and most advanced surgical techniques to treat cancers of the colon and rectum. Once a tumor is evaluated by a pathologist, our team of specialist will then tailor and individual treatment plan to meet the patient’s specific needs
More importantly, our team of world-renowned surgeons have saved countless lives, and have enabled countless more to live healthy, happy lives.