Colon & Rectal Cancers
Colorectal cancer is a collective term used to describe cancer that begins in the colon or in the rectum. Depending on where they start, these cancers can also be named colon cancer or rectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States.
If you or someone you know has been recently diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer, treatments may begin at a cancer center led by a medical oncologist. This is often the starting point, even before surgery is performed, if needed.
For many cancer patients, a medical oncologist oversees the entire process of cancer treatment, acting as the lead physician for your team of medical professionals. Your oncologist will help you evaluate the options and assist in determining the best combination and timing for various types of cancer treatments.
The oncologists at Cancer Care Centers of Brevard are experienced in the various aspects of colorectal cancer treatment including clinical research trials investigating new therapies and combinations of therapies.
Signs & Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
Most cases of colorectal cancer develop from noncancerous (benign) polyps, which over time, can develop into cancer. During the early stages of the disease, symptoms may be minor or even non-existent, which is why doctors recommend regular colorectal cancer screening tests after the age of 50 for most people.
Detecting and Diagnosing Colorectal Cancers
As with most other cancers, colorectal cancer doesn’t always come with obvious signs and symptoms until the disease has spread to a more advanced stage. This is why it’s important to understand your family history and talk with your primary care physician about scheduling regular colorectal cancer screening.
Staging Colon and Rectal Cancers
If the biopsy shows that cancer is present, your doctor will need to know the extent, or stage, of the disease in order to plan the best treatment. The stage is based on whether the tumor has invaded nearby tissues, whether the cancer has spread and, if so, to what parts of the body.
Treatment Options for Colon and Rectal Cancers
The choice of treatment depends mainly on the location of the tumor in the colon or rectum and the stage of the disease. Treatment for colorectal cancer may involve surgery, chemotherapy, biological therapy, or radiation therapy. Some people have a combination of treatments.
Risk Factors for Colon and Rectal Cancers
When it comes to colon and rectal (colorectal) cancer, research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop the disease. While some factors like diet and lifestyle choices can be controlled, others, such as age and family history cannot.
Genetics of Colon and Rectal Cancers
Most colon and rectal (colorectal) cancers are not considered hereditary in, meaning that it isn't passed down from one family member to another. Research indicates that an inherited gene mutation causes only about 5% of all colorectal cancers. The remaining 95% are caused by a mutation of a gene acquired during a person's lifetime (non-genetic).