Conditions & Treatments

Colon & Rectal Cancer Care

Health experts aren’t quite sure exactly what causes colorectal cancer. Many factors – family history of the disease and your age, for instance – may be part of it.

It’s difficult to prevent colon and rectal cancer if doctors don’t know what causes it. But, that doesn’t mean healthy habits, screenings and early intervention are a waste of time. In fact, they may be your best defense.

What are the screening guidelines for colon cancer? 

The death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping for several decades. A big part of this trend is due to doctors finding and removing colorectal polyps earlier. More than 90% of colon and rectal cancers are permanently cured when they are diagnosed early.

The screening recommendations below apply to most adults.

Age 50 or older:

  • Follow ONE of the screening options below:
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years.
  • Virtual colonoscopy (also called Computed Tomographic Colonography) every five years. A colonoscopy will be performed if polyps are found.
  • Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) Another option is a stool-based test every year.

People at moderate or high risk for colon cancer (e.g., strong family history) should talk with their doctor about the need for a different testing schedule.

These screening guidelines are provided as a guide. If results of these exams suggest cancer, more extensive diagnostic tests of the colon or rectum should be conducted. More frequent exams are needed if polyps (precancerous lesions) are found. In individuals at increased risk with a family history of colon cancer or polyps or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, screening may need to begin earlier.

How can I prevent colon cancer? 

Colon and rectal cancers affect both men and women (although the risk is slightly higher for men.) A healthy, active lifestyle and a high-fiber diet can help cut your risk, along with:

  • Staying at a healthy weight
  • Not smoking
  • Limiting alcohol – no more than 2 drinks for men and 1 for women in a day

There are several factors that can increase your risk of colon and rectal cancer. These aren’t all within your control:

  • Age (50-plus)
  • Chronic colon conditions, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Family or personal history of colon cancer or polyps
  • Obesity

What are some symptoms of colon cancer? 

Most colon and rectal cancers don’t cause symptoms during early stages. When symptoms do appear, they can include:

  • Change in stool
  • Fatigue
  • Lumps in your groin area
  • Pain or pressure
  • Unexplained weight loss

Why should I choose Banner Health?

Our cancer specialists work together to diagnose and treat your colorectal cancer. We’ll help you and your family along your road to recovery with comprehensive treatment and plenty of information and support. We’re with you through your full recovery and beyond.

Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center
An unprecedented level of cancer care is available throughout the Phoenix and Northern Colorado areas.
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