The Diagnosis and Management of Colorectal Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women living in the United States. Fortunately, colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable and curable types of cancer, as it can be easily detected through screening processes such as a colonoscopy. March is National Colorectal Cancer Month; increase your awareness and read on to learn more about the importance of an early diagnosis in the treatment of this deadly disease.
A colonoscopy is the best-known screening method for detecting and diagnosing colorectal cancer, as it has the ability to image the entire colon. During this exam, the physician looks for the presence of structures called polyps lining the inside of the colon and rectum. These polyps can be large or small, raised or flat, and while they are typically benign, they can also be a site of cancerous growth. If a polyp is found, the tissue will often be biopsied for the presence of cancer cells.
Once the condition has been diagnosed, the treatment process will often depend on the stage, or severity, of the disease. For cancers found at their earliest stage (stage 0), treatment usually involves the removal of the affected cells during the colonoscopy. If the cancer is found at stages I, II, or III, more aggressive treatments may be recommended. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery to remove the cancer cells are among the most common treatments for colorectal cancer.
If you are over the age of 50 or have an increased risk for colorectal cancer, speak with your physician about undergoing a colonoscopy. Like most other cancers, early detection will significantly increase the likelihood of a full cure. You can contact West Hills Hospital & Medical Center at (818) 676-4000 if you have any questions regarding your potential risk factors.