What is Colorectal Cancer?

Cancer Treatment Specialists in Phoenix, Payton, Scottsdale, & Glendale

Getting diagnosed with cancer can one of the most challenging parts of life, but no matter who you are or what you’re up against, you don’t have to face it alone. At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we’re proud to provide world-class cancer treatment to patients throughout the greater Phoenix area, and our treatment team focuses on providing compassionate, comprehensive, and personalized cancer care for every condition. We’re proud to treat a wide variety of cancerous conditions, and if you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, we’re here to help.

About Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is a term applying to cancers that form in the last parts of the digestive system: the colon and the rectum. As the third most common form of cancer for both men and women, colorectal cancer affects more than 130,000 Americans each year – and while it can be fatal if left untreated, we can often successfully eliminate colorectal cancer through early diagnosis and treatment. Age is the most significant risk factor for colorectal cancer, as some 90% of tumors occur in patients older than 50. That said, anyone can develop colorectal cancer – so it’s important to talk to your doctor about your personal risk level.

There are a number of factors that increase your risk for developing colorectal cancer, including:

  • Previous history of colon polyps, colorectal cancer, Crohn’s Disease, or ulcerative colitis
  • A diet with few fruits and vegetables and high levels of red meat and fat
  • An inactive lifestyle, obesity, smoking, or drinking alcohol in excess

What Are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?

Often, colorectal cancer doesn’t display any obvious symptoms, especially during it’s early phases. Symptoms may become more obvious as the cancer progresses, and they may include any of the following:

  • Alternating episodes of diarrhea and constipation
  • Change in frequency of bowel movements
  • Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding
  • Bloating
  • Unexplained weight loss or anemia
  • General discomfort in the abdomen
  • Chronic fatigue

How is Colorectal Cancer Diagnosed?

There are a number of ways to diagnose colorectal cancer, and your doctor may use any combination of tests to confirm the diagnosis. The best way to treat colorectal cancer is to detect and diagnose early, which is why some of these diagnostic tests should be taken as a regular preventative measure. Diagnostic tests for colorectal cancer include:

  • A general physical exam, including a digital rectal exam (DRE) to spot abnormal masses in the rectum
  • A sigmoidoscopy, which involves using a thin, lighted tube with a camera to search the sigmoid (lower) colon for polyps. Patients over 50 should get a sigmoidoscopy every 5 years as a preventive measure.
  • A colonoscopy, which uses a long, thin lighted tube with a camera to evaluate the rectum and entire colon for polyps. Patients over 50 should receive a colonoscopy every 10 years as a preventive measure.
  • A test for blood in the stool
  • A double-contrast barium enema, which examines the rectum and colon with X-rays to spot abnormal growths

If polyps or other growths are spotted during a test, your doctor will remove a piece of tissue from the growth and perform a biopsy, which will determine if the growth is cancerous. If a cancer diagnosis is confirmed, you’ll likely require further tests to determine if the cancer has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body.

Contact Your Phoenix, AZ Cancer Treatment Specialists

Whether it’s colorectal, breast, lung, or any other cancerous condition, the battle against cancer can be difficult – but at Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we’re here to help. We’re proud to provide comprehensive, effective, and convenient cancer treatment from our six state-of-the-art facilities throughout the Phoenix area, and we firmly stand with our patients no matter what they’re battling. If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or any other form, we encourage you to to contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our facilities. Even if you’ve already received recommendations on treatment, we’d be happy to provide a second opinion – and thanks to the advanced radiation therapy treatment we provide, we can often treat cancers other centers can’t. No matter what you’re up against, the team at Palo Verde Cancer Specialists is committed to helping you reclaim total health and a normal, happy lifestyle.

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