Colorectal Cancer Screening (VIDEO)
Special thanks: Washington Radiology Associates, Metro Gastroenterology
The digestive system is like a long tube that runs from the mouth to the anus and includes organs that help the body digest and absorb food and nutrients. The organs that make up the digestive system include the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (or colon), rectum, and anus. Inside these organs is a lining called the mucosa. The digestive tract also contains a layer of smooth muscle. The muscle moves food through the tract in a wavelike movement called peristalsis, helping to mix it and break it down. Read more
- Noncancerous growths, such as polyps
- Malignant or cancerous growths, which usually begin as polyps
Colorectal cancer can occur without polyps, but this is rare and accounts for less than 1% of all colorectal cancers diagnosed in the US each year. It usually happens in individuals with long-standing inflammatory bowel diseases, such as chronic ulcerative colitis and Crohn's colitis. Read more
Screening for colorectal cancer can mean the difference between catching the disease in its early stages and catching it in its advanced stages, and this literally can be the difference between life and death. Precancerous polyps can be easily removed, and if colorectal cancer is caught early, it often is treatable and the chances of a full recovery are good. But cancerous polyps that have invaded the intestinal wall or even metastasized can prove fatal. Read more
- Surgery removes cancer cells
- Chemotherapy kills cancer cells
- Radiation therapy destroys cancerous tissue
Surgery (colectomy) is the main treatment for colorectal cancer. Stage 0 colon cancer may be treated by removing the cancer cells, often during a colonoscopy. In stages I, II, and III cancer, the affected part of the colon is removed surgically. The surgeon may perform a resection, consisting of a partial colectomy (removing the cancer and a small amount of healthy tissue around it) and an anastomosis (sewing the parts of the colon back together). Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed and biopsied. Read more
Colorectal cancer that is caught in its early stages may never come back, or it may recur. If the cancer doesn't recur within 5 years, it's considered cured. Stage I, II, and III cancers are considered potentially curable. In most cases, stage IV cancer is not curable. Read more
No one knows exactly what causes colorectal cancer, but a number of risk factors have been identified. These include:
- Age. About 90% of people diagnosed with colon cancer are over age 50.
- Genetics. Genetic syndromes cause 5-10% of all colon cancers.
- Family history of colorectal cancer. About 20-25% of colorectal cancers occur among people who have a family (parent, sibling, or child) history of the disease.
Related Health Centers:
Breast Cancer, Cancer Introduction, Colorectal Cancer, Prostate Cancer