Torrance Memorial Colorectal Cancer Program

U.S. News and World Report Colon Cancer SurgeryColorectal cancer is the third common cancer in the United States and also the second leading cause of cancer death. However, when discovered early, colorectal cancer is highly curable. At Torrance Memorial, we offer sophisticated, compassionate, and comprehensive care to patients with colorectal cancer.

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer starts in either the colon or the rectum. The colon and rectum are the large intestine, the lower part of the body’s digestive tract.

Colorectal Cancer Types

The most common type of colorectal cancer is adenocarcinoma. This type of cancer can form in mucous-secreting glands throughout the body, including the lower intestine.

Stages of Colorectal Cancer

The staging of colorectal cancer is based on how far the cancer has grown into the wall of the intestine, if it has reached nearby structures, and if it has spread to the lymph nodes or distant organs.

These factors are used to assign a stage of 0 to IV, as follows:

  • In stage 0: cancer is still restricted to the innermost lining of the colon. It is also called Carcinoma in Situ.
  • In stage I: cancer has begun to spread, but it is still in the inner lining.
  • In stage II: cancer has spread deeper through the wall of the colon but has not reached lymph nodes.
  • In stage III: cancer has spread to lymph nodes nearby.
  • In stage IV: Cancer has spread to other organs such as the liver or lungs. This is known as metastasis.

Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors

Being overweight, eating unhealthy foods and lack of exercise are all factors that raise your risk of having colorectal cancer. Here are some other risk factors for colorectal cancer:

  • Older age
  • African-American race
  • Personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Inflammatory intestinal conditions
  • Low-fiber, high-fat diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Radiation therapy for cancer

Colorectal Cancer Signs and Symptoms

Early colorectal cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms. As it progresses, it may cause one or more of the symptoms below:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in the stool, which may cause the stool to look dark
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Screenings for colorectal cancer available at Torrance Memorial include:

  • Colonoscopy: Using a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope with a light and microscope, the doctor examines the entire inside of the rectum and colon for ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding.
  • Sigmoidoscopy: A thin, lighted tube is used to exam the lower colon and rectum for polyps
  • Virtual colonoscopy: A procedure using a combination of x-rays and computer technology to create images of the rectum and colon. If your doctor finds signs that you have polyps, you may need to have a colonoscopy to determine whether cancer is present.
  • Double-contrast barium enema: An imaging procedure that involve swallowing a dye to make the colon visible under x-ray.

Learn More about Torrance Memorial Colonoscopy and Virtual Colonoscopy Screenings

Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis

If polyps are found during your colonoscopy, they will be removed during the procedure and sent to the pathology lab to test for cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Your physician will recommend the best treatment for your colorectal cancer, based on your medical history and the results of your screening and lab tests. Treatment options for colorectal cancer include:

For More Information

For additional information about the Colorectal Cancer program at Torrance Memorial, call our Nurse Navigator at 310-517-7077.

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