Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment of Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States. It is also one of the most preventable cancers. This is why early detection is so important.
The chances of developing colorectal cancer increase with age and can be impacted by dietary and smoking habits. People who are over 50 years of age are more likely to develop colorectal cancer. A diet with high amounts of red meat (like beef), low fiber, and only small amounts of fruits and vegetables may also be linked to colorectal cancer. Smoking greatly increases the risk. Drinking one or more alcoholic beverages a day can also increase the risk of colon cancer. People who are less physically active are also at greater risk.
Unfortunately, colorectal cancer is often painless so many people are unaware that they have it. Signs and symptoms depend on how advanced the cancer is and whether it has spread to other areas, such as the liver or lungs.
However, a change in bowel movements (such as constipation or diarrhea) or a change in the caliber of your bowel movements (more narrow or pencil shaped), indicates a need for testing. Other signs include blood in stool, tar-like stool, weight loss, night sweats, fatigue, pale skin or palpitations.
Screening and Diagnosis
Colorectal cancer can be detected by many different ways, such as by physical exam, blood work and lab tests, or a specialized procedure called a colonoscopy. The physician can perform a digital rectal exam to look for blood in the stool. However, this can only detect a small percentage of colon cancer.
Another way to detect the disease is with a fecal occult blood test, or FOBT. A small amount of stool is sent to the laboratory so that it can be tested to determine whether or not it contains blood. Though this test is more accurate than the rectal exam, it is not the most thorough way to test for colorectal cancer.
One of the best colon cancer screening procedures is the colonoscopy, which is performed by a gastroenterologist or surgeon. In this procedure, a narrow scope with a camera is inserted into the rectum and colon to provide images that can screen for and depict signs of colorectal cancer, such as polyps. The advantage of this procedure is that not only can you detect the polyps, but you can also take a small piece of the colon (called a biopsy) and examine it under a microscope to look for signs of colorectal cancer. Not all polyps are cancerous. A biopsy can reveal whether cancer is present.
To schedule a colorectal cancer screening, please call 718-246-8600.
Treatment for colorectal cancer depends on how advanced the cancer is and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Treatment includes surgery to remove tumors. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also available as treatments.
At NYP Brooklyn Methodist, we offer a wide array of treatment options depending on the stage of cancer and the preferences of the patient. A dedicated team of physicians,surgeons, nurses, nutritionists and other support staff guide patients through the entire process. Our surgeons provide multiple surgical options, including minimally invasive surgery. Our team of oncologists and radiation oncologists offers a wide array of chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments designed to minimize side effects and improve quality of life for patients and their family members.