Comprising the longest section of the large bowel, the colon draws water, vitamins, and minerals from remnants of food that have migrated through the small intestine. The last segment of the large bowel is called the rectum. In some cases, polyps (small growths) arise in the innermost lining of the colon or rectum. The growths typically present very little to no symptoms, although intestinal growths can progress into cancer of the colon or rectum. Since they are very similar, colon and rectal cancer are commonly classified together.
Unfortunately, colorectal cancer is the second leading reason behind cancer-related deaths in women, following breast cancer. Regular colorectal cancer screenings can discover evidence of colon and rectal cancer early on and considerably enhance a patient’s health prognosis. You can set up a colonoscopy procedure and additional related colon cancer screenings at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates. If you’re seeking a skilled gastrointestinal (GI) doctor in New Orleans, speak with our team to learn how we can help combat colorectal cancer and other GI problems.
What should I know about colon and rectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or rectum. A large number of people with colon cancer will have no indications of the disease in the beginning stages. The people who do present signs or symptoms might have the following:
- Ongoing abdominal cramping or pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blood in stool or rectal bleeding
- Changes in bowel habits
In the event that you or a family member is having one or more of these indications, get in touch with Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates in New Orleans right away to meet with a gastroenterologist.
In cases where a cancerous growth extends into the external wall of the colon or rectum, it can infiltrate the circulatory or lymph system and spread to additional regions of the body. Individuals whose colon cancer has metastasized outside of the colon and rectum have substantially smaller survival rates than people whose cancer remains confined, making early detection and treatment key.
What are risk factors for colon and rectal cancer?
Even though anyone can get colon or rectal cancer, certain factors can place some patients at an increased risk. A number of risk factors for colorectal cancer are listed below:
- A genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer
- Use of alcohol
- A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
- Tobacco use
- Being over 50
- Being overweight
Those with a higher risk or who have any of the above factors should get periodic screenings for colon or rectal cancer, such as through routine colonoscopy procedures.
How is cancer of the colon detected?
A variety of forms of colon cancer screening may be used for people who are at risk of developing the condition. Such screening procedures include blood work, fecal analysis, and colonoscopy testing. To conduct a colonoscopy, a GI doctor inserts an elongated scope housing a mini camera through the colon and rectum to check for any concerns, such as polyps in the colon. When colon polyps are discovered during the conduction of a colonoscopy, they can often be removed at the time of the procedure and tested for evidence of cancer. Once colon cancer has been diagnosed, more involved assessments can be carried out to ascertain if the cancer has spread and to help determine the optimal treatment approach.
What are the treatment options for colon cancer?
The process of treating a patient’s colon or rectal cancer will be based on the location, size, and stage of the cancer and could include chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation treatment. Polyps in the colon might take up to 10 or 15 years to become malignant. This means that if a polyp is detected early, it can commonly be removed before it turns cancerous. For individuals who have localized colon or rectal cancer and undergo treatment, there is a five-year survival rate of approximately 90%. Receiving a periodic colonoscopy can be lifesaving, but nearly 30% of U.S. adults are not up to date on their screenings for colorectal cancer.
Protect your health with a colorectal cancer screening in New Orleans, LA
Colon or rectal cancer may be the second-highest cause of cancer death among women, but it is very treatable when detected early and simple to identify with a regular colonoscopy. Patients who are over the age of 50 or who have other medical concerns that elevate their chance of colon and rectal cancer should book a regular colonoscopy screening. Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates incorporates the most cutting-edge techniques to improve gastrointestinal health, and our team of skilled physicians operates on a patient-first mindset. To find out additional details about colon and rectal cancer or other gastrointestinal health conditions, get in touch with Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates in New Orleans today.