Colorectal cancer, also called colon cancer or rectal cancer, occurs when abnormal cells grow in either the colon or the rectum and bind together to form tumors. The colon is the large intestine or large bowel, and the rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus.
The exact cause of most colorectal cancers is not known. Risk factors include poor diet, lack of exercise, and having polyps (precancerous growths) in the colon or rectum areas. Those over age 50 also are at increased risk.
Though more than 148,000 cases were diagnosed in 2008, colorectal cancer is one of the most easily prevented cancers. Colon cancer is preventable if polyps are detected early through routine screening and are removed. But more than half of Americans who should be screened do not get tested according to the American Cancer Society.
Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Program
The Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Program provides specialty care – including leading-edge treatments and personalized support services – for people with suspected or diagnosed colorectal cancer.
Each patient receives an individualized treatment plan based on the stage of the colorectal cancer as well as their age, health, and personal choices. Patients may obtain a second opinion outpatient consultation with a Fox Chase Cancer Center oncologist who meets with the patient and family at Virtua.
The program provides leading-edge procedures, including Transanal Endoscopic Microsurgery (TEMS). This minimally invasive procedure is successful in the removal of benign or early stage malignant rectal tumors as well as large polyps that cannot be removed by an endoscope. Patients can go home the same evening or the next day, and can be back to work within a week. The surgery typically lasts about an hour, and a patient can also return to normal eating that night or the next morning.
Virtua's colorectal surgeons also offer patients the most advanced colonoscopy screening for colon cancer. Surgeons use high definition, narrow band equipment for earlier detection of colon and rectal cancer. The high-definition colonoscopy technology provides greater detail of the lining of the intestine. It emphasizes features of the colon that are usually hard to see such as suspicious growths inside the colon, including polyps and precancerous lesions.
Colorectal Cancer Treatment
The Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Program offers the latest diagnostic and treatment options for colorectal cancer, including:
- Traditional or minimally invasive laparoscopic colorectal surgery and combination treatment for rectal cancers
- Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) to precisely target rectal tumors and minimize side effects
- Advanced medical oncology options such as cutting-edge antiangiogenesis therapies
- A range of clinical trials through national and regional associations as well as those that originate at Fox Chase Cancer Center
- Transanal Endoscopic Microsurgery (TEMS), a leading-edge, minimally invasive procedure that is successful in the removal of benign or early stage malignant rectal tumors as well as large polyps that cannot be removed by an endoscope. Patients can go home the same evening or the next day, and can be back to work within a week. The surgery typically lasts about an hour, and a patient can also return to normal eating that night or the next morning.
Learn more about minimally invasive surgery through robotic-assisted surgery, which uses a state-of-the-art surgical system. The technology allows the doctor to perform complex procedures through just a few tiny openings. As a result, you may be able to get back to life faster without the usual recovery following major surgery.