Colorectal Cancer Overview
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer this year. Combined, colon and rectal cancer will cause about 55,000 deaths.
The colon is the last 4 to 5 feet of the intestine. Its function is to absorb water from the stool and hold the waste until you are ready to expel it. The last one foot of the colon is called the rectum.
Colon cancer develops in the colon. In most cases, colon cancer begins as a benign, or non-cancerous, polyp on the bowel wall that eventually increases in size and becomes cancerous. Unfortunately, many polyps and early cancers fail to produce symptoms.
Because colon cancer is curable in its early stages, the key to survival is early detection. If everyone aged 50 and older had regular colorectal cancer screening tests, more than one third of deaths from colon cancer could be avoided. Once diagnosed, if it is treated in the early stages, between 80% and 95% of colon cancer patients return to their normal health.
Screening for colorectal cancer should begin soon after turning 50 and continue at regular intervals. However, testing may need to happen earlier, or more often, in some people than in others if:
- The patient or a close relative has had colorectal polyps or cancer
- The patient has inflammatory bowel disease
- The patient has worrisome symptoms such as rectal bleeding or blood in stool, anemia, change in bowel habits, abdominal cramps and pain or unexpalined weight loss
Patients should talk to their doctors about when to begin screening and how often to be tested.
Schedule a Consultation at Colorectal Surgical Associates
Call the Houston colorectal surgeons at the Colorectal Surgical Associates today to schedule your colorectal screening.