Colorectal Cancer Surgery
What Is Colorectal Cancer?
The lower digestive system is made up of the colon, the rectum and the anus. The development of cancer in the colon or rectum is called colorectal cancer. Differently, it’s also logical to use the term colon cancer or rectal cancer – mostly depending on the point of initiation. Both the cancers have many features in common (and that’s why the term colorectal cancer).
Colorectal cancer begins when polyps start developing in the color or rectum. Polyps are essentially growths on the inner colon or rectum lining. Not all polyps, however, turns into cancer cells. It starts in the lining of the intestines called the mucosa. Over time it can invade the deeper layers and then spread to the other organs. That is why colon cancer screening is important, to detect a pre-cancerous polyp and remove it or find the tumor in an early stage where it can be cured with surgery.
How is colorectal cancer surgery performed?
Colorectal cancer surgery is used to remove precancerous or cancer from the color or rectal region. There is usually no other way to treat colorectal cancer other than surgery. Depending on which area cancer started in, there are many different kinds of surgeries. On top of the surgeries, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and other cancer treatments can be added for more effective treatment.
Laparoscopic or robotic colectomy is a minimally invasive surgery that targets segments of the segment of bowel harboring the cancer. It Removes the cancerous bowel through a small incision allowing a quick recovery. Open Surgery is sometime needed if the tumor invades adjacent structures.
- Total colectomy is the surgery that removes the entire colon.
- Hemi-colectomy is when only a part of the colon is removed.
- Sigmoid-colectomy is when the lower part, also known as the sigmoid, of the colon is removed
- Transverse colectomy is when the middle part, also known as the transverse, of the colon is removed.
Diverting the colon:
- A colostomy is a surgery where a part of the colon is removed with the end of the colon being diverted to the tummy. Here, bowel movements are collected in a bag that is worn over the stoma (of the opening.)
- Similarly, the ileostomy is the surgery where the same thing happens but with a small intestine.
What are the colon cancer symptoms?
The most common colon cancer symptoms include many different conditions, some of which might also be caused by other conditions, so be sure to check with your doctor if you experience one of more of these symptoms. Most times colon cancer is asymptomatic, however as the tumor grow symptoms may arise, some of the more common symptoms are:
- Change in your bowel behavior
- Very dark to bright red blood in the stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- Cramps, bloating, gas pains, and related bowel pains
- Narrow stools and/or feeling that the bowel is not being emptied completely
- Diarrhea and/or constipation
As mentioned above, many of these conditions might be the reason for other problems in your body. However, if you experience multiple symptoms, if five from this list, make sure you check with the doctor for a professional opinion and If something is fine, engage in a treatment as early as possible.
The doctor might make you undergo certain tests for the detection of the potential color or rectal cancer. These tests range from digital rectal examine, fecal occult blood tests to x-rays and colonoscopy. Digital rectal tests and fecal occult blood tests are also quite common in this scenario. If you undergo any other test, make sure you understand the purpose. Also, read the reports carefully. In any case, the doctor will let you know what the problem is. In case cancer tumors are found, then you will most probably undergo surgery, perhaps without cancer treatments.
How Many types of colon cancer are there?
The types of colon cancer are various, the most common being adenocarcinomas. Adenocarcinomas make up 95% of total colorectal cancer cases. This is the type that we discussed, where cancer cells start forming on the rectal or colon lining through the growth of polyps.
The other kinds of colorectal cancers are very rare. So, if there is no polyp-related danger in your colon or rectum, there chances of having cancer are extremely low.
The other types of colon cancer are gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors, lymphomas, sarcomas and melanomas tumors.
The effective screening for colon cancer
Detecting polyps, early-stage colorectal cancer, and developed cancer tumors in the colon or the rectum is done with the help of multiple methods of screenings. Screening for colon cancer is not limited and many processes can be applied. However, most commonly, only a few tests are used. These are accepted by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (or the USPSTF).
High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test or FOBT is a king of blood test where blood is checked. Polyps often bleed, and it’s common for the colorectal cancer tumors to bleed. The FOBT checks for small amounts of blood in the stool that is usually unobservable with the naked eye. FDA has approved guaiac FOBT and immunohistochemical test of iFOBT so far.
Stool DNA test using the only FDA-approved test Cologuard detects the blood in stool as well as nine DNA biomarkers in no less than three genes commonly found in colorectal cancer cells. Usually, the bleeding sets some blood loss in the stool that is basically the shedding of the cancer cells. Thus, the DNA helps double-check whether you have colorectal cancer. People whose Cologuard results are positive usually undergo immediate colonoscopy.
Colonoscopy today is the given standard for colon rectal cancer screening.
Where to go in case you need a colorectal cancer surgery?
Many doctors specialize in colorectal cancer. Note that cancer tumors in colon or rectum are similar in nature, but they are not similar to other cancer tumors and types of cancers. Therefore, be sure to check whether a colorectal cancer specialist is available.
Many doctors like Dr. Jeffrey Snow in South Florida have multiple specializations and a huge number of successful colorectal cancer cases. If you want success, you need to choose a doctor who has years of experience in curing cancers in the rectum and colon.
More than a doctor who you need is a partner who will be there at every step of your cancer journey. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you take a look at the patient outlook of said doctor or hospital before considering admittance.
Check-ups are more flexible than treatment, so far that, you can choose any reputed clinic or hospital. But once diagnosed, only choose the best option for curing your colorectal cancer. If caught early colectomy (removing a part of the intestine), gets rid of the colorectal cancer. Sometimes the addition of chemotherapy or radiation might be required in the treatment process.
So far, we have learned that you need to go see a doctor if you experience one of more symptoms of colorectal cancer. If polyps are developing, you are at a higher risk, but it’s not necessarily cancer. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps. Screening could save your life.
Jeffrey P. Snow, M.D., P.A.
General and Colorectal Surgery
Dr. Snow, a native of Massachusetts, has spent his entire professional career in South Florida, having been a senior partner at Surgery Specialists of South Broward for 20 years.
601 North Flamingo Road
Pembroke Pines, Fl 33028