Healthcare: Cancer Care

What You Need To Know About Colorectal Cancer

Media Component
Scott Holmes, CMI
Illustration of human colon anatomy

Colorectal cancer can start in the colon or the rectum. Colon cancer and rectal cancer often are grouped together because of the commonality between the two diseases. Most colorectal cancers start as a growth known as a polyp, in the lining of the colon or rectum. Some types of polyps, known as adenomas, have a higher risk of becoming cancer. Additionally, the size and number of polyps found can increase the likelihood of colorectal cancer.

Physicians in our Colorectal Cancer Program offer compassionate, patient-centered care and the latest techniques for the treatment of colon and rectal cancers. Our multidisciplinary approach is aimed at providing you the best chance for cure and maximizing quality of life, avoiding a permanent ostomy whenever possible.


Prevention and Risk Factors


Preventative steps can help lower your risk of colorectal cancer. These include eating a healthy diet, maintaining an active lifestyle, and limiting alcohol and tobacco use. Risk factors that can increase your chances of getting colorectal cancer include:

  • Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Obesity
  • History of colorectal polyps
  • Irritable bowel disease
  • Family history
  • Type 2 diabetes



Colorectal cancer is not always symptomatic. As the cancer develops, patients may notice:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by having one
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in the stool
  • Cramping or abdominal pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

Screening and Diagnosis


The American Cancer Society recommends at age 45, men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should be screened. Colorectal Screening tests can include the following:

  • Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT or IFOBT)
  • DNA Stool Tests
  • Fecal Occult Blood Tests (FOBT)
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Rigid proctoscopy and endorectal ultrasound



The stage in which your cancer is will affect your treatment plan. Treatments can include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and/or immunotherapy. Patients also have access to National Cancer Institute-sponsored clinical trials.