Colorectal cancer is a prominent cause of cancer deaths, but an early diagnosis could save thousands of lives every year. The experienced gastroenterologists at Carolina Digestive Health Associates, PA, can help you avoid colorectal cancer with regular screenings. They can also offer effective treatments if you already have colorectal cancer. Contact one of the 13 offices in Charlotte, Belmont, Concord, Davidson, Matthews, Monroe, Huntersville, University, or Pineville, North Carolina, to arrange your screening appointment. Call or book online today.
Colorectal cancer is a condition where cancerous growths form in your colon (large bowel) and rectum. It’s not clear exactly what causes colorectal cancer. However, risk factors that increase your chances of developing this disease include:
People of African-American ethnicity also have a greater chance of developing colorectal cancer.
The majority of colorectal cancers grow from polyps on your colon and rectum. Polyps are generally benign (noncancerous) clumps of tissue. However, they can sometimes undergo genetic mutations that cause them to become cancerous.
You might not experience any symptoms with colorectal cancer. When symptoms do develop, it may be at a later stage of the disease, when it’s more of a challenge to treat. If you experience symptoms, they might include:
Given that treatment is much easier and more effective when colorectal cancer is in its early stages, Carolina Digestive Health Associates, PA, recommends you undergo regular colorectal cancer screening.
Colorectal cancer screening could involve giving a stool sample, which your provider uses to measure blood levels via fecal occult blood testing (FOBT). However, tests like these only indicate there could be a problem; you would still need to undergo a colonoscopy.
Colonoscopy involves inserting an endoscope (a tiny camera on a long, flexible tube) into your rectum and the colon. The camera sends images of the lining of the bowel back to a screen for your provider at Carolina Digestive Health Associates, PA, to examine.
If they find any polyps, your provider can remove them during the colonoscopy. Even if the polyps aren’t cancerous, removing them ensures they never get a chance to mutate. They can also take tissue samples for analysis in the lab if they find any suspicious growths.
If your cancer is small enough, your provider can extract it during a colonoscopy. Larger cancers and ones that have spread into the bowel wall need surgical removal.
The kind of surgery you need for colorectal cancer depends on the extent of your cancer. With advanced cancers, your provider might have to remove part of your colon or rectum. You’re also likely to need chemotherapy and radiation therapy as well as surgery.
To avoid the pain and potentially life-threatening complications of advanced colorectal cancer, contact Carolina Digestive Health Associates, PA, about coming in for a screening. You can also talk to them about any symptoms of colorectal cancer by calling their office today or booking an appointment online.