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Colorectal Cancer 

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In 2012, more than 143,000 Americans were diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

What is colorectal cancer?

Often referred to together as colorectal cancer, colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), and rectal cancer is cancer of the last few inches of the colon. It most often begins as precancerous (polyps) on the inside lining of the colon.

Who develops colorectal cancer?

Factors that increase the risk for colorectal cancer include:

  • a family history of colorectal cancer
  • being over age 50
  • colorectal polyps
  • genetic changes

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

Symptoms may include:

  • a feeling that your bowel does not empty completely
  • blood (either bright red or very dark) in the stool
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • fatigue
  • frequent gas pains, cramps or feeling full or bloated
  • narrower than normal stools
  • nausea or vomiting
  • unexplained weight loss

Because these symptoms can also indicate less serious conditions, see your physician if you experience any of them.

How is colorectal cancer diagnosed?

If you have symptoms or a screening test indicates cancer, a biopsy (removal of tissue) will be performed to test for the presence of cancer. Polyps can also be removed during a screening test, such as a colonoscopy.

How is colorectal cancer treated?

Most patients with colorectal cancer are treated with surgery (including minimally invasive procedures). Chemotherapy and biological therapy may also be used to treat colon cancer; radiation is rarely used. Radiation therapy, chemotherapy and biological therapy may be used to treat rectal cancer.

Valley Hospital is proud to offer the latest treatment options for colorectal cancer, including minimally invasive surgery through its Institute for Robotic and Minimally Invasive Surgery. For more information, call 201-447-8012.

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