Colon Cancer

It’s estimated that nearly 130,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed each year. Regular preventative screenings are one of the most powerful tools you have available to you.

SSM Health Cancer Care provides personalized colorectal cancer care to hundreds of patients annually. Colorectal cancer can develop in the colon or rectum. Other types of tumors, carcinoid, gastrointestinal stromal and lymphomas can also occur, but are far less frequent.

Colorectal cancer occurs when normal cells found in the lining of the rectum or colon grow at an abnormal rate. Traditionally, this cell growth occurs over a number of years, but in some hereditary cases the disease can develop within months. Colorectal cancer is linked to both genetics and environmental factors.

Colorectal Cancer Preventative Screening Guidelines

Colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies are part of the preventative screening process for colorectal cancer. A colonoscopy is used to study the entire colon and rectum for polyps, an early sign of cancer. Sigmoidoscopies are used to study the lower colon and rectum. At SSM Health, we recommend screening for those who are:

  • Age 50 and older
  • Have a family history of colorectal cancer

We recommend regular screenings be performed once every five to ten years unless risk factors warrant more frequent screenings.

Signs & Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancers may present similar to other conditions, such as hemorrhoids and inflammatory bowel disease. Symptoms vary between individuals, but if you are experiencing any of the following, it’s important to consult with your physician:

  • Blood in stool (typically bright red or very dark)
  • Change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Stools that are more narrow than usual (sometimes pencil-like)
  • Unexplained stomach discomfort
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Iron deficiency anemia (low number of red blood cells)

Treating Your Colorectal Cancer

While surgery is the most common treatment , our physicians may recommend the following based on your specific diagnosis:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation 
  • Targeted therapy
  • Combination of treatment options

Preventative screenings are an important part of your health. From diagnosis through treatment, SSM Health Cancer Care is here to help you through this health journey. Schedule an appointment with one of our cancer specialists and learn about your available options.

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