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Colorectal Cancer Care in Greater Houston and East Texas

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths. Therefore, it’s important to understand your personal risk factors for this condition and recognize symptoms early.

Colon cancer and rectal cancer are so similar that they are often both referred to as colorectal cancer. The different terms describe the location in the intestines where the tumor originates: the colon or the rectum. 

Colorectal cancer symptoms

It’s important to pay attention to your body to detect any changes that may indicate a health concern. Some common symptoms of this condition include:

     

    Diarrhea, constipation, or a change in bowel habits for more than a few days

    Unusual stool (thin or slimy)

    Feeling like your bowel won’t completely empty

    Blood in stool

    Fatigue

    Persistent belly pain

    Unexplained weight loss

     

Since you may not notice symptoms until the cancer has spread, it’s important to understand your personal risk for colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer risk factors

Anyone over the age of 50 is at average risk for colorectal cancer. Men have a slightly higher risk than women, but regular screenings are important for everyone. Some factors that could increase your risk include:

    History of colon polyps

    Previous diagnosis of colon cancer

    Crohn’s disease

    Ulcerative colitis

    Type 2 diabetes

    Lynch syndrome

    African American heritage

    Eastern European Jewish heritage

    Immediate family member with polyps or colorectal cancer

    Obesity

    Sedentary lifestyle

    Smoking

    Excessive alcohol use

    Diet high in red meat or lunch meat

     

Colorectal cancer screenings and diagnosis

Experts recommend people at average risk for this condition begin routine screenings at age 50. People with a higher risk may need to start screening earlier and have them done more frequently. Some tests for colorectal cancer include:

    Colonoscopy – examines the interior walls of the rectum and colon

    Double-contrast barium enema – highlights the inner part of the colon and rectum in an X-ray

    Flexible sigmoidoscopy - examines the interior walls of the rectum and part of the colon

    Computed tomography (CT) colonography or virtual colonoscopy – shows a 3D view of the colon and rectum  

    Fecal blood tests

     

    If your doctor discovers abnormal results during the screening, they may perform the following to reach a diagnosis:

Blood tests

Endoscopic procedures

Biopsy

Imaging:

    Ultrasounds

    X-rays   

   Computed tomography (CT) scans                

    MRI

Colorectal cancer treatment and surgery

The physicians at St. Luke’s Health—including gastroenterologistssurgeons, and radiation oncologists—provide advanced, multidisciplinary care     to our patients. For those dealing with this condition, we use a compassionate, collaborative approach to create a personalized treatment plan.

Some of the treatments and surgeries available for those with colorectal cancer include:

    Polypectomy - removes the polyp from the colon wall by passing a wire loop through a colonoscope

    Colectomy - removes the diseased area of the colon, then reconnects part of the colon

    Minimally invasive procedures, including:

        Endoscopic mucosal resection

        Endoluminal stent placement   

    Radiation therapy

    Chemotherapy

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