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Colorectal

Colorectal cancer

The information on this page was reviewed and approved by
Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science at CTCA.

This page was updated on December 7, 2021.

Colorectal cancer (of the colon and/or rectum) is the fourth most common cancer in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER). An estimated 149,500 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2021, according to the American Cancer Society. The earlier colorectal cancer is found, the better the chances of survival. About 65 percent of patients are still alive five years after a diagnosis, according to the SEER Program. If colorectal cancer is detected before it’s spread to other parts of the body, the five-year survival rate increases to 90 percent.

No colorectal cancer patient is the same. Get personalized treatment.

Colorectal cancer is such an important focus at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) that each of our hospitals has a GI Cancer Center dedicated to treating patients with all stages of gastrointestinal disease. Our gastroenterologists and oncologists understand the complexities of colorectal cancer and the array of treatment options available. Your care regimen is designed to help you maintain your quality of life, while providing treatment options targeted to your cancer type and stage. At CTCA®, we take an integrative approach to patient care, combining evidence-based colorectal cancer treatments with side-effect management techniques, to treat not just the disease but the whole person.

This overview will cover the basic facts about colorectal cancer, including:

If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of colorectal cancer and want to schedule an appointment for diagnostic testing, or if you’re interested in a second opinion on your colorectal cancer diagnosis, call us or chat online with a member of our team.

What causes colorectal cancer?

Who gets colorectal cancer?

Some risk factors may increase a person’s chances of developing this disease, including:

  • Age (after 50)
  • Race and ethnicity (African-American, American Indian, Alaska Native or Ashkenazi Jewish heritage)
  • Family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • History of polyps, especially if they were large, numerous, or showed certain abnormal noncancerous cells (dysplasia)
  • Previous colorectal cancer diagnosis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn’s disease
  • Certain genetic syndromes, such as Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  • Type 2 diabetes

Lifestyle factors that may increase the risk of colorectal cancer include:

  • Diet high in fat, red meats and/or processed meats
  • Unhealthy weight or obesity, especially for men
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Moderate to heavy alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use
Mike Fincham

Mike F.

Colorectal Cancer

" My wife and family supported me through this hard time, and with their care along with the care provided by CTCA, I can now be here for them. I am so thankful God led us to CTCA!"

MORE ABOUT MIKE

More About MIKE

Colorectal cancer symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Incomplete bowel movements (the feeling of being unable to empty bowels completely)
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
  • Thin, ribbon-like stools
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Stomach pains, bloating, fullness or cramps that occur frequently and don’t go away
  • Unexplained weight loss and/or loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Bowel habit changes

While colorectal cancer may cause these symptoms, other conditions may cause them, too. Patients who notice any of these symptoms should visit their doctor.

Learn more about symptoms of colorectal cancer

Types of colorectal cancer

Diagnosing colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer may be detected and treated early with a proper screening regimen.

A number of tests are available to diagnose colorectal cancer. In fact, a combination of these tests may be needed to make a diagnosis:

Learn more about colorectal cancer diagnosis and detection

Creating a colorectal cancer treatment plan

Understanding your colorectal cancer treatment options

Colorectal cancer treatments may be localized, focusing on a tumor, or systemic, using drugs to fight cancer cells throughout the body. A treatment plan is determined by the cancer’s stage and extent of the disease.

When caught early, colorectal cancer may be treated with a colonoscopy to remove polyps or cancerous cells from the lining of the colon. Advanced diseases may require surgery to remove some of, or, in rare cases, the entire colon, as well as nearby lymph nodes.

Other treatment options include immunotherapy, targeted therapy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Your multidisciplinary team of colorectal cancer experts will answer your questions and recommend treatment options based on your unique diagnosis and needs.

Surgery is the most common treatment option for colorectal cancer. Other treatment options include:

Learn more about treatment options for colorectal cancer

Diagnosis and treatment options at our CTCA GI Cancer Centers

GI Cancer Center

CTCA Atlanta

GI Cancer Center

GI Cancer Center

CTCA Chicago

GI Cancer Center

GI Cancer Center

CTCA Phoenix

GI Cancer Program

Supportive care

Managing the side effects of colorectal cancer treatment is important to your recovery and quality of life. At CTCA, our team of experts offer supportive care services designed to help you stay strong and maintain your quality of life throughout treatment. These therapies may include:

nutrition

​Nutritional support

Every patient has the option of meeting with a registered dietitian.

accupuncture

​Pain management

Pain management is a branch of medicine focused on reducing pain and improving quality of life through an integrative approach to care.

rehabilitation

​Oncology rehabilitation

​Oncology rehabilitation includes a wide range of therapies designed to help you build strength and endurance.

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