Torrance Memorial Colorectal Cancer Program
Colorectal 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
- 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 colonoscopy 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 involves swallowing
a dye to make the colon visible under x-ray.
Learn More about Torrance Memorial Colonoscopy and Virtual Colonoscopy
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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