Colorectal cancer is preventable – early detection is key
Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, is one of the few cancers we know how to prevent yet it’s one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United States. A routine colonoscopy (colon exam) can often detect polyps, abnormal growths in the large intestine, which can be easily removed before becoming cancerous. This routine exam is recommended for men and women starting at age 50, but people often put it off and polyps go undetected until cancer has formed and sometimes spread to other areas of the body.
Women are just as likely as men to get colorectal cancer. If you smoke or are very overweight, you are also more at risk.
Most people do not experience colon cancer symptoms until too late
Because colon polyps and potential cancer may go unnoticed for many years, it’s even more important to get a colonoscopy on a regular basis. For those who develop symptoms, here are some possible indicators of colorectal cancer:
- Abdominal cramping
- Bloody stool (bowel movement)
- Bowel movements narrower than usual
- Feeling like your bowel hasn’t emptied completely
- Frequent gas pains
- Unexplained weight loss
These types of symptoms may indicate other conditions, not necessarily colorectal cancer. If you have a history of colon cancer in your family or you have symptoms that concern you, be sure to discuss it with a doctor.
Getting the best colorectal cancer treatment
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, your treatment may include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Your treatment plan will depend on the type, stage and size of the tumor, your prognosis as well as your ability to tolerate certain medical procedures and medications.
You’ll have the best possible colorectal cancer care at Main Line Health. Our world-renowned program includes groundbreaking treatments such as the Marks-Mohiuddin method, which has allowed 93 percent of our patients to avoid a colostomy bag, and transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM), a less invasive surgical technique pioneered here at Main Line Health.