Colon and rectal diseases comprise a broad range of diseases and conditions, the severity of which can range from mildly irritating to life threatening. Early evaluation, screening and treatment for colon and rectal diseases can greatly improve outcomes and survival rates. While these conditions can be uncomfortable, dangerous and can significantly affect quality of life, many patients delay or don’t seek treatment due to lack or knowledge about their disease or are too embarrassed to seek help. Prompt diagnosis and expert treatment can help you get back to feeling well again.
Colon and rectal surgeons are experts in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of diseases of the colon, rectum and anus. They have completed advanced surgical training in the treatment of these diseases as well as full general surgical training. Board-certified colon and rectal surgeons complete residencies in general surgery and colon and rectal surgery, and pass intensive examinations conducted by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Colon and Rectal. They are well-versed in the treatment of both benign and malignant diseases of the colon, rectum and anus and are able to perform routine screening examinations and surgically treat conditions if indicated.
Colonoscopy is an effective procedure to diagnose abnormalities of the large intestine and to screen for colorectal cancer and colorectal polyps. A colonoscope is a thin and flexible instrument that allows for magnified views of the colon and rectum. The procedure is often performed in an outpatient setting with minimal discomfort and inconvenience. Because colonoscopy allows doctors to find and remove colon polyps that may develop into cancer, colonoscopy can be a life-saving procedure.
Colorectal cancer is a cancer of the cells lining of the colon and rectum that starts from a precancerous polyp (growth). Causes are related to genetics and lifestyle, but many time no specific cause is found and the cancer is due to a random genetic change.
Men and women aged 50 or older are at almost equal risk of developing colorectal cancer. Those who have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps are at higher risk of developing the disease. Anyone who has a long-term personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease) also is at higher risk. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States, and the third most common cancer overall.
Be sure to maintain a diet low in animal fat and high in fruits, vegetables and fiber. Get regular exercise and avoid cigarette smoking. Keep alcohol consumption in moderation.
Several screening options exist. These include a fecal occult blood test (FOBT), flexible sigmoidoscopy, CT colonography and colonoscopy. Colonoscopy can identify and allow removal of pre-cancerous polyps and prevent the development of cancer. Patients should talk to their colorectal surgeon or other healthcare provider to find out which screening method is right for them.