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AmMed Cancer Center > Treatment Information by Cancer Type > Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer

Cancer Information :

 

Colorectal Cancer  

Symptoms

Colorectal cancer sometimes arises without any symptoms. For this reason, screening tests (such as colonoscopy and a test for blood in the stool) are recommended to detect the cancer early, when it is more easily curable.

When symptoms do occur, however, they may include the following:

  • rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
  • a change in bowel habits (such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool) that lasts for more than a few days
  • abdominal pain
  • a continuous feeling that you need to have bowel movement, which does not dissipate even after passing stool
  • weakness

Some of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions. But you should see your doctor if they persist. Any incidence of rectal bleeding or blood in the stool should be brought to your doctor's immediate attention.

Screening & Diagnosis

Colorectal cancer screening and diagnosis may involve one or more of the following procedures:

  • Colonoscopy

    This examination allows the doctor to inspect the rectum and colon, using a thin tube that has a light and camera attached on the end. It is inserted into the rectum while the patient lies on his or her side. Patients often receive a mild sedative during this procedure to ensure their comfort. Any polyps or other growths that are found during these examinations are usually removed at the time and sent to a laboratory for further examination.

  • Fecal Occult Blood Test

    This test checks for blood in the stool. Small samples of stool are placed on special cards and sent to a doctor or laboratory for testing. The patient is asked to follow a special diet and then bring in stool specimens (usually applied to small, folded cards) from three successive days. Blood in the stool may be a sign of colorectal cancer.

  • Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)

    Also called an immunochemical fecal occult blood test (iFOBT), this newer kind of colorectal cancer screening test also finds hidden blood in the stool, but it does so by reacting to a part of the hemoglobin molecule (the protein found in red blood cells). Unlike traditional fecal occult blood testing, FIT does not require the patient to avoid certain foods or drugs before the test.

  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

    This examination is similar to the colonoscopy exam, but it uses a shorter tube to inspect the lower part of the colon.

  • Virtual Colonoscopy

    Virtual colonoscopy is a technique that uses CT scans to create a 3-D image that can be used to evaluate the bowel. While this technique may be useful for some people who can't have or don't want to have an invasive test such as colonoscopy, it does not allow for a biopsy or polyp removal at the same time if an abnormality is found. Moreover, the bowel cleansing required before the test is the same as that for conventional colonoscopy.

Treatment

The choice of treatment for colorectal cancer depends on the stage of the disease -- that is, how large the tumor has grown, how deeply it has invaded the layers of the colon or rectum, and whether it has spread to other organs (most commonly the liver), lymph nodes, or other parts of the body.

Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and combinations of these approaches. To learn more about colorectal cancer treatments, select from the menu below.