News & Updates

Back to All News

Marking Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Lankenau Medical Center’s John Marks, MD authors lead article in Diseases of the Colon & Rectum

Lankenau Medical Center March 7, 2017 News Releases

In conjunction with Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the lead article in the March issue of Disease of the Colon & Rectum, a publication of the American Society of Colorectal Surgeons, was authored by John Marks, MD, section chief of colorectal surgery at Main Line Health, and medical director of the Harry Paul Mirabile, Sr., Colorectal Cancer Center at Lankenau Medical Center, part of Main Line Health. The article was also featured as a podcast.

Dr. Marks’ article, “Quality of Life and Functional Outcome After Transanal Abdominal Transanal Proctectomy for Low Rectal Cancer,” highlights the research conducted by Dr. Marks and his colleagues, including Lankenau’s Jean Salem, MD, and his father Gerald Marks, MD, to evaluate the outcomes of 90 patients with cancers in the bottom third of the rectum who avoided a permanent colostomy by using chemotherapy and TATA (Transanal Abdominal Transanal Radical Proctosigmoidectomy). TATA is a sphincter-preserving surgery pioneered by Dr. Marks.

The study findings indicated that, although TATA patients’ bowels will not function as they did before cancer, patients do develop a new normal that they are pleased with. Compared with life with a colostomy, patients in the study unanimously preferred the sphincter-sparing TATA surgery over life with a colostomy bag. The study also found that function improves and patients adapt to their ‘new normal’ after their surgery.

“Lankenau is setting the standard of care for colorectal cancer treatment. The TATA and our minimally-invasive treatment options allow for more than 90 percent of our patients to avoid a colostomy bag after colorectal cancer surgery,” said Dr. Marks. “It is an honor to have our work highlighted in such a prominent journal, and to share research that can make an incredible impact on the future of colorectal cancer care.”

Along with the TATA procedure, Dr. Marks has introduced several other surgical techniques, including Transanal Endoscopic Microsurgery and Single Incision Laparoscopic procedures, to spare colon and sphincter function with little to no scarring. These procedures have resulted in thousands of patients going on to lead normal lives after a diagnosis of colon and rectal cancers. His expertise continues to receive attention from across the nation and the globe, with patients traveling from Mexico, Nepal, Europe and Africa, among other places.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month—a reminder for all members of the community to be proactive in preventing and screening for colorectal cancer. The most effective way to prevent colorectal cancer is regular colonoscopies. It’s recommended that colonoscopies begin at age 50 and continue until 75, but screenings should start earlier if there are other risk factors—like a personal or family history of colon cancer, polyps, or inflammatory bowel disease or if symptoms like bleeding, change in bowel habit, or unexplained weight loss occur.

“Colorectal cancer remains one of the nation’s leading causes of cancer deaths. Fortunately, it is a highly treatable disease. When it is found and treated early, the five-year survival rate is about 90 percent. Get screened regularly, and talk to your doctor about risk and prevention,” said Dr. Marks.

About Main Line Health

Founded in 1985, Main Line Health is a not-for-profit health system serving portions of Philadelphia and its western suburbs. Main Line Health’s commitment—to deliver advanced medicine to treat and cure disease while also playing an important role in prevention and disease management as well as training physicians and other health care providers—reflects our intent to keep our community and ourselves well ahead. A team of more than 10,000 employees and 2,000 physicians care for patients throughout the Main Line Health system.

At Main Line Health’s core are four of the region’s most respected acute care hospitals—Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital—as well as one of the nation’s recognized facilities for rehabilitative medicine, Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital.

The Main Line Health system also includes Mirmont Treatment Center for drug and alcohol recovery; Main Line Health HomeCare & Hospice, which includes skilled home health care, hospice and home infusion services; Main Line Health Centers, primary and specialty care, lab and radiology, and other outpatient services located in Broomall, Collegeville, Concordville, Exton and Newtown Square; Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, a biomedical research organization; and Main Line HealthCare, one of the region’s largest multispecialty physician networks.

Main Line Health is the recipient of numerous awards for quality care and service, including System Magnet® designation, the nation’s highest distinction for nursing excellence, the Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence (MAAPE) Excellence Award, and recognition as among the nation’s best employers by Forbes magazine. Main Line Health is committed to creating an environment of diversity, respect and inclusion and has proudly embraced the American Hospital Association’s #123forEquity Pledge to Act to eliminate disparities in care. We are dedicated to advancing patient-centered care, education and research to help our community stay healthy.

About Lankenau Medical Center

Lankenau Medical Center, a member of Main Line Health, is recognized as a national leader in advancing new options to diagnose and treat illness, protect against disease and save lives. Located on a 93-acre campus just outside of Philadelphia, Lankenau Medical Center is a 389-bed, not-for-profit teaching hospital that includes one of the nation’s leading cardiovascular centers; the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, one of the few freestanding hospital-associated research centers in the nation; and the Annenberg Conference Center for Medical Education, that trains over 100 new physicians each year through nationally ranked residency and fellowship programs. Lankenau has received both regional and national recognition for its excellence in providing state-of-the-art, quality care. Lankenau Medical Center has been named among the top 10 hospitals in Pennsylvania and top five in the Philadelphia metro area in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals 2016–17, and was ranked as high-performing in four specialties: gastroenterology & GI surgery, geriatrics, orthopedics and pulmonology. Lankenau was also ranked as high performing in all nine of the Common Core specialty areas that the publication analyzes, including: abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, aortic valve surgery, COPD, colon cancer surgery, congestive heart failure, heart bypass surgery, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. Lankenau has achieved The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for stroke care and breast cancer care and is one of the nation’s Top Performing Hospitals for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care. Lankenau has also been ranked for multiple years as one of the top 50 cardiovascular hospitals in the nation by Truven Health Analytics. Lankenau has also earned the highest distinction for excellence in nursing care, the American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet® designation.


Mary Kate Coghlan
Communications Specialist
Office: 484.580.1028
Cell: 610.308.6675