Colorectal cancer refers to cancerous cells that form in the tissues of the colon or rectum, which are part of the large intestine of the digestive tract. Cancerous tumors found here may also spread to other parts of the body. Though colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer in the U.S., increased screening through colonoscopy and polyp removal (polypectomy) have helped to reduce the number of deaths due to colorectal cancer in recent years. Both men and women should be screened for colorectal cancer by age 50. People with a family history of colorectal cancer should get a colonoscopy even sooner — at age 40 or earlier — and some medical experts recommend that African-Americans start screening at age 45.
Colorectal cancer surgery is one option for treatment of the disease. While there are several types of colorectal cancer surgery, the most common is a surgical resection in which a diseased section of the colon is removed and the remaining healthy parts of the colon are reconnected. Colorectal cancer surgery may also include an ostomy, a surgically-created opening in the abdomen, to bypass a portion of the intestines.
In addition to colorectal cancer surgery, treatment for the disease may include chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Patients seeking comprehensive colorectal cancer treatment options from a world-class facility can rely on Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH).
The Cancer Center: State-of-the-art colorectal cancer surgery
The Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology offers patients expert and compassionate care featuring the latest technology and techniques for treating gastrointestinal cancer and performing colorectal cancer surgery.
The Center's team of medical professionals and caregivers collaborate closely with patients to develop a unique therapy plan tailored to the individual needs of each patient. In addition to diagnoses and colorectal cancer treatment, the team also provides a range of support services to help patients and their families deal with the emotional and physical challenges of colorectal cancer diagnosis and cancer surgery. Resources include support groups, nutritional counseling and access to integrative therapies such as Reiki and acupuncture.
For people with a family history of colorectal cancer or other gastrointestinal cancer, in-depth risk assessment, detailed prevention recommendations and tailored cancer screening, including referrals for a gastrointestinal endoscopy or a colonoscopy, are provided. The risk factors for colorectal cancer may include age, family history of the disease, having Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, or lifestyle choices such as obesity, lack of physical activity, low vitamin D, and consuming a high amount of red meat.
Clinical trials help develop surgery alternatives for colorectal cancer.
Patients at the Center may be referred for participation in clinical trials administered by research scientists. Designed to increase understanding of the nature of various diseases and to test new therapies, clinical trials may provide patients with real health benefits while helping to advance the field of cancer medicine.