What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a term that refers to cancer in which has developed in the colon or rectum. These cancers are sometimes referred to separately as colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they start. The two share many different features.

Signs & symptoms of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer may cause one or more of these symptoms:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in the stool, which may cause the stool to look dark
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

Early colorectal cancers may not cause any symptoms. Screenings are recommended.

Colorectal cancer screening tests.

Screening is the process of looking for cancer in people who do not yet show symptoms of the disease. There are several different tests can be used to screen for colorectal cancers, these can be divided into:

  • Tests that can find both colorectal polyps and cancer. These tests look at the structure of the colon itself to find any abnormal areas and can be done either with a scope inserted into the rectum or with special imaging (x-ray) tests. Polyps found before they become cancerous can be removed, so these tests have the potential to prevent colorectal cancer. Because of this, these tests are preferred if they are available and you are willing to have them.
  • Tests that mainly find cancer: These involve testing the stool for signs that cancer may be present. These tests are less invasive and easier to have done, but also have a lower rate of detecting polyps.

These tests as well as others can also be used when people have symptoms of colorectal cancer and other digestive diseases.

Importance of colorectal cancer screening.

Did you know that some screening tests can be used to spot changes in the colon and rectum before they even have a chance to become cancer? Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful weapons one can have to prevent colorectal cancer. There is a 1 in 20 or %% chance of developing colorectal cancer over your lifetime. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined.

It can take years (as many as 10 to 15) for a polyp to develop into colorectal cancer. Through regular screenings, you can prevent many cases of colorectal cancer altogether by finding and removing certain types of polyps before they have the chance to turn into cancer. A doctor can remove polyps during a colon cancer-screening colonoscopy using tiny tools passed through the scope. Polyps are abnormal growths in the lining of the bowel. Over time some polyps can evolve into colon cancer, which is why collected polyps are sent to a lab for testing. By identifying and removing polyps, a colonoscopy can prevent most cancers from forming.

Southeast Valley Gastroenterology (SEVG) is a well established, academically oriented group in metropolitan Phoenix that specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of gastrointestinal diseases. At SEVG, our goal is to provide high quality, state-of-the-art medical care where the patient’s well-being is always the primary consideration. We provide comprehensive care including all endoscopic services (Screening ColonoscopyUpper EndoscopyEndoscopic UltrasoundERCPCapsule Endoscopy) and consultative care. It is our vision to be the region’s leading comprehensive center for the treatment of digestive disorders where service excellence and patient experience remain the number one goal. We thank you for visiting our site and look forward to serving you. Read more about a colonoscopy at South East Valley Gastroenterology.