Colon Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and a leading cause of death from cancer. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly 130,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed each year. Colorectal cancer affects people in all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people age 50 and older.

SSM Health Cancer Care provides personalized colorectal cancer care to hundreds of patients annually. If you've been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, find an SSM Health cancer specialist near you to learn more about how our team would approach your care.

The Importance of Screening

Regular preventative screenings are one of the most powerful tools you have available to you. If everyone age 50 and older were screened regularly, 6 out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented.

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. To schedule a colonoscopy screening contact your primary care provider, and they'll assist you in scheduling the appointment.

About Colorectal Cancer

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 can develop in the colon or rectum. Other types of tumors, carcinoid, gastrointestinal stromal and lymphomas can also occur, but are far less frequent.

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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