Colon Cancer & Rectal Cancer
Colon cancer is in the large intestine, or the lower part of the digestive tract, while rectal cancer exists only in the last few inches of the colon. In combination, they are referred to as colorectal cancer.
In many cases, colon cancer begins as small, benign clusters of cells called adenomatous polyps. These polyps can become colon cancer over time. By themselves, the polyps produce few symptoms, if any. Because of this, doctors recommend regular screening to identify the nature and severity of these polyps in the interest of preventing colon cancer. At the Beverly Hills Cancer Center our doctors are proud to provide innovative, comprehensive colon cancer treatment all in our private Los Angeles facility.
There are several primary signs of colon cancer, including:
- An irregularity in bowel movements, such as diarrhea, constipation or stool consistency
- Rectal bleeding
- Chronic abdominal aches, including cramps, gas and pain
- Unexplained weight loss
In many cases, people with colon cancer do not show symptoms during the early stages. Once a patient does show signs of symptoms, they will vary depending upon the location and degree of the disease.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is best to see a colon cancer doctor for a diagnosis. Additionally, talk to your doctor regarding colon cancer screenings—which typically begin at age 50—to prevent any onset of colon cancer. Your doctor may recommend screenings earlier if there are risk factors present, such as a family history of disease.
Testing and diagnosis
If there is an indication that you may have colon cancer, your doctor will recommend testing to prevent complications and advancement. These tests include:
- Colonoscopy. This uses camera attached to a flexible tube to view the inside of the colon. If necessary, the doctor can also use the tube to take tissue samples for analysis.
- CT scan. A CT scan is a non-invasive procedure and may be used to create a detailed image of the inside of your colon. This is an alternative option for those unable to receive a colonoscopy.
Colon & Rectal Cancer Treatment
As is the case with many forms of cancer, colon cancer requires one of three options: surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Whatever the course of action, rest assured knowing our doctors will establish an excellent colon cancer treatment plan in our private Los Angeles facility.
Surgery varies greatly depending upon the nature and degree of colon cancer. In milder cases, if the cancer is localized in a polyp, the doctor may be able to remove it using a colonoscopy. More severe forms of colon cancer require surgery, removing the part of your colon containing the cancer. If the cancer is advanced, the doctor will perform surgery to relieve signs and symptoms, but the disease may be too far advanced to be cured.
Chemotherapy is the intravenous use of drugs to eliminate cancer cells. It may be used in many different ways. It may be used after surgery to prevent cancer recurrence. It may also be used before surgery to shrink the cancerous area before the operation. In the case of rectal cancer, it is typically used in conjunction with radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy utilizes precise, powerful radiation sources to eliminate cancer cells. This may be done from an external source, such as a gamma knife, or from an internal source, such as HDR brachytherapy. Radiation therapy is typically used in treating rectal cancer, particularly if the disease has spread to nearby lymph nodes. In both colon and rectal cancer, radiation therapy may be used to reduce the risk of recurrence.
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