Colorectal Cancer: Common and Treatable

Cancer Care Steward Health Care

Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the U.S.  However, it is largely preventable with early screening and detection.

The American Cancer Society suggests that starting at age 50, men and women at average risk of developing colorectal cancer undergo regular colonoscopy screening (the “gold standard” for colon screening) for the prevention of colorectal cancer. People at increased risk of colorectal cancer may need to have screening tests earlier in life and more often.  You should consult with your primary care physician or gastroenterologist about your risk for colorectal cancer and whether or not you are due for a colonoscopy screening.

For individuals who’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, surgical removal of the cancer is the most common treatment. And, when the cancer is found early, surgery alone is often the only treatment needed.

Richard Demopoulos, MD, a Steward Health Care general surgeon, has extensive expertise in minimally invasive colorectal surgery, including procedures to treat a variety of colorectal diseases, including colon and rectal cancers.

“My overarching treatment philosophy is to create a setting which has the optimum conditions for cure,” says Dr. Demopoulos. “We do this by thoroughly evaluating the patient, optimizing their medical, nutritional, and social situations, enlisting input from gastroenterologists, oncologists, and other specialists, and then performing a surgical procedure which is minimally invasive and which strives to restore the patient to normal function as quickly and easily as possible.”

According to Dr. Demopoulos, the most common procedures for colon and rectal cancer involve removing a segment of the colon and reattaching it so that it functions normally, ideally without the need for a colostomy. The vast majority of such a surgery is typically performed through a laparoscope, which requires only a small incision to perform the entire operation.

Dr. Demopoulos notes that there are always new and innovative procedures designed to make treatment both more effective and easier for patients to tolerate. “New surgical procedures include single-site laparoscopic surgery through the naval, as well as the utilization of colonic stents to temporarily relieve blockages in the colon, allowing surgery to be performed without the need for a colostomy,” he says.  “New chemotherapeutic treatments are also more effective than ever at treating patients with advanced disease.”

 

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