Diagnosis & Treatment
Diagnosing Colon and Rectal Cancer
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Colon and rectal cancers usually begin as polyps, noncancerous growths that can form on the colon wall. If a polyp is not removed or treated, it can become cancerous over time. In people with a rare genetic predisposition, these cancers may develop more quickly.
If colon cancer is suspected, doctors will first confirm cancer by performing a colonoscopy to retrieve a sample of the tumor that can be biopsied by a pathologist. When cancer is identified, doctors must determine the location and stage in order to recommend the best possible treatment. They will use additional tests to help determine this, including CT scans of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. Blood work is also checked for tumor markers.
Cancer is considered to be early or advanced depending on the size of the tumor, the degree to which nearby lymph nodes are affected, and whether or not it has spread to other parts of the body. The sooner colon and rectal cancers are detected, the more likely they can be successfully treated.
Cancer Type - Diagnosis - Treatment Options
Colon Cancer - Most colon cancers stem from a kind of tumor called adenocarcinoma. Cancerous cells form inside the tissue of the colon.
Typically found during colonoscopy screenings, or when symptoms develop, such as weight loss, a change in bowel habits or blood in the stool.
Diagnosed through a colonoscopy, biopsy, blood test or imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI.
Most colon cancers are treated with surgery. The portion of the colon with the tumor is removed, and the remaining bowel ends are reconnected.
After surgery, a pathologist will study the tumor and lymph nodes to determine if chemotherapy is needed to kill lingering cancer cells.
Rectal Cancers - Most rectal cancers stem from a kind of tumor called adenocarcinoma. These are cancerous cells form inside the tissue of the rectum.
Typically found during colonoscopy screenings, or when symptoms like weight loss, a change in bowel habits or blood in the stool develop. Diagnosed through a colonoscopy, biopsy, blood test or imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are first used to kill as many cancer cells as possible.
Then surgeons remove part of the rectum and re-attach the bowel, or the entire rectum and perform a colostomy. This depends on the location of the tumor.
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