the American Cancer Society, there will be about 112,340 new cases of colon cancer and 41,420
new cases of rectal cancer in the United States this year. Combined, they
will cause about 52,180 deaths.
The death rate from colorectal cancer has
been decreasing for the past 15 years. One reason is that there are fewer
cases. Thanks to colorectal cancer screening, polyps can be found and removed
before they turn into cancer.
The Colorectal Cancer Institute at
The Steeplechase Cancer Center is dedicated to providing the latest colorectal cancer
prevention, detection and treatment services.
While we do not know
the exact cause of most colorectal cancer, there are certain known risk
For men and women at average
risk for cancer (those without a family history of colon or rectal cancer),
the most widely recommended and most effective screening tool
colonoscopy, a painless
procedure performed under deep sedation.
Early detection is key
to fighting colon and rectal cancers. Screening should begin at age 50. However,
African-Americans should be screened
for colorectal cancer beginning
at age 45.
options for those who can not have a colonscopy
medical reasons include:
occult blood test or fecal
immunochemical test (FIT)
sigmoidoscopy every 5
blood test plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
enema every 5
ultrasound also may be used. If any polyps
are found they should be removed if
While a digital rectal exam (DRE) is often
done as part of a regular physical exam, it should not be used as a stand-alone
test for colorectal cancer. For a DRE, the doctor examines the patient’s rectum
with a gloved finger.
begin screening earlier or have screening more often. Talk to your doctor about
your own risk and when you should have screening tests.
If cancer is
present, close collaboration among the patient, gastroenterologist, surgeon, oncologist and radiation
oncologist ensures the best possible outcome. The four main options of
treatment for colorectal cancer are surgery, radiation
therapy, chemotherapy and
newer, targeted therapies called monoclonal
Depending on the stage of your cancer, two or more
types of treatment may be used.
Surgery is the main
treatment for colon cancer. In a colorectal
resection, the cancer and a length of normal colon on either side of
the cancer as well as nearby lymph nodes are removed. The two ends of the colon
are then sewn back together. A colectomy may be performed to remove
all or part of the
colon. Laparoscopic surgical options also are available.
Sometimes very early
colon cancer can be removed through a colonoscope. When this is done, the doctor
does not have to cut into the abdomen. Surgery for colon cancer can sometimes be
done laparoscopically. In this method, a lighted tube and special instruments
are placed inside the body through a few small
incisions, rather than one large one.
Surgery is usually the
main treatment for rectal cancer, too, although radiation and
chemotherapy often will be given before surgery.
The Steeplechase Cancer Center features a
state-of-the-art Varian iX linear accelerator. This equipment uses the latest in
computer technology to track and deliver high-energy X-rays to a patient’s tumor
with pinpoint accuracy. These X-rays can destroy the cancer cells while sparing
the surrounding normal tissue. The Radiation Oncology Department also is
equipped with modern treatment planning software, which enables physicians and
staff to generate a specialized plan to target the tumor.
Multidisciplinary Team Approach
treatment is guided by a care team of gastroenterologists, medical
oncologists, oncologic surgeons, radiation oncologists, radiologists, primary
care physicians, pathologists, medical physicists, radiation therapists, highly skilled
certified oncology nurses, social workers, case managers, nutritionists,
pharmacists and pastoral care staff. A multidisciplinary
continually reviews and updates our
treatment protocols, ensuring we are providing the most advanced care to improve the
quality of life for our patients.
As always, the best course of action is
early detection. For a physician referral, call