Colorectal cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2018, there will be over 90,000 new cases of colon cancer and over 40,000 new cases of rectal cancer.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the colon or the rectum. It can also be named colon or rectal cancer, depending on their site of origin.

Most cases of colorectal cancer begin as a polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Although not all types of polyp can turn into cancer, some can become malignant after several years. There are two main types of polyp. One is the hyperplastic and inflammatory polyp and the other one is the adenomatous polyp.

Hyperplastic and inflammatory polyps are the most common types but are generally considered not pre-cancerous. The adenomatous polyp, on the other hand, is the type that is more likely to become malignant. Hence, it’s also called pre-cancerous polyp.

Risk Factors

Aside from having colon polyps, there are other factors that can increase one’s risk of developing colorectal cancer. These include:

  • A family history of colorectal cancer
  • A history of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis
  • Having diabetes
  • Having certain genetic syndrome such as Lynch
  • Smoking

Signs and Symptoms to Look For

Like most types of cancer, early diagnosis of colorectal cancer can have an impact on its treatment outcome. You should see a doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • A change in your bowel habits
  • Blood in your stool, whether it’s bright or dark in color
  • Frequent bloating, gas, or cramps
  • Stools are unusually narrower
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting

To diagnose colorectal cancer, the doctor has to do a thorough physical exam and request a number of tests. These tests usually include colonoscopy, biopsy, blood tests, molecular testing of the tumor, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan, ultrasound, and positron emission tomography (PET) scan.

Treating Colorectal Cancer

When it comes to colorectal cancer, surgery is the most common method of treatment. If you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville can help. Our team of board-certified surgeons are specially trained in the treatment of colon and rectal cancer.

Learn more about our surgical oncologists on our website.