Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or the rectum. These cancers can also be called colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they start. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because they have many features in common. Cancer starts when cells begin to grow out of control.

Most colorectal cancers start as a growth on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. These growths are called polyps. Some types of polyps can change into cancer over time (usually many years), but not all polyps become cancer. The chance of a polyp turning into cancer depends on the type of polyp it is.

Cancer Care of North Florida will take careful steps stage and grade the tumor to assess the best way to create and manage your treatment plan. Our goal is to achieve the very best outcome while preserving your quality of life.

There are many types of colorectal cancer tumors which include:

  • Adenocarcinomas (most common)
  • Carcinoid tumors
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs)
  • Lymphomas
  • Sarcomas

The level of invasiveness is determined by diagnostic testing and imaging.

What are the risk factors for Colorectal Cancer?

It may be possible to avoid some risk factors for colorectal cancer, but some are out of your control. The best plan is to catch it early.

Lifestyle and hereditary factors include:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Not being physically active
  • Smoking
  • Diets high in red meats and processed meats
  • Low vitamin D levels
  • Personal history of colorectal polyps
  • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Inheriting certain gene changes (Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis)
  • Family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Type 2 diabetes

Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer Include:

  • 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’s not relieved by having one
  • Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
  • Blood in the stool, which might make the stool look dark brown or black
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Low red blood cell count
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes

Many of these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than colorectal cancer, such as infection, hemorrhoids, or irritable bowel syndrome.

Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

It is very important to do a comprehensive colorectal cancer work-up to carefully evaluate the extent of the cancer.

  • Medical history and physical exam
  • Testing for blood in the stool
  • Routine blood tests
  • Blood tests for tumor markers
  • Colonoscopy
  • Proctoscopy
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound
  • Chest x-ray
  • PET imaging
  • Angiography
  • Biopsy and molecular assessment
  • Familial genetic testing

Depending on the type and stage (severity) of the colorectal cancer, the following treatments may be necessary. At Cancer Care of North Florida, we use the most advanced therapies available to treat colorectal cancer. An individualized plan of care may include multiple types of treatments.

Types of surgical procedures for colorectal cancer include:

Polypectomy and local excision – Removal of cancerous polyps and small cancers on the inside lining of the colon with a very small amount of surrounding healthy tissue. This is done for very early-stage disease.
Transanal excision (TAE) – Removal of cancer tissue in the rectum through the anus along with a small amount of health tissue. Lymph nodes are not removed during this procedure.
Transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) – Same as the TAE procedure only the tumor is a bit farther into the rectum. This procedure allows for a magnified view of the area for precision and accuracy.
Low anterior resection – Removal of part of the rectum which is close to the colon. The lower part of the colon is then attached to the remaining rectum.
Colectomy – Removal of part or all of the colon and nearby tissue. This procedure is usually accompanied by lymph node resection. This surgery can be done open or laparoscopic depending on the extent of disease.
Proctectomy – Removal of the entire rectum. The colon is then directly connected to the anus.

Other forms of non-surgical interventions for colorectal cancer include:

Radiation – Any remaining cancer cells left after surgery are destroyed with high-energy radiation beams. For some colorectal cancers, treating with chemotherapy at the same time can make radiation therapy work better. It is possible to receive radiation therapy before, during or after surgical intervention. Also, when surgery is not possible, radiation can be used to help slow the growth of the tumor. We work closely with Cancer Care of North Florida Radiation Oncology located on campus.
Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy (chemo) are anti-cancer drugs that may be given intravenously (injected into your vein) or by mouth. The drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells in most parts of the body. Chemotherapy can sometimes be given before, during or after surgery. At Cancer Care of North Florida, our team provide extensive education and supportive care through your therapy.
Targeted Treatments – Targeted drugs work differently from chemo drugs. They sometimes work when chemo drugs don’t, and they often have different side effects. They can be used either along with chemotherapy or by themselves if chemotherapy is no longer working. Targeted treatment options are determined by further genetic testing of the tumor cells. This type of testing is usually done on the biopsied tissue of the tumor cells.
Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy is the use of medicines to help a person’s own immune system better recognize and destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy can be used to treat some people with advanced colorectal cancer.

Why Choose Us?

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, it is crucial to work with a team of cancer experts who not only have extensive experience, but also a strong track record for achieving the best possible outcome for their patients. While this type of cancer is treatable, the dedicated team Cancer Care of North Florida will initially stage and treat this form of cancer and monitor and treat cancer recurrence or complications that may occur later.

At Cancer Care of North Florida, our physicians are highly specialized in treating multiple types of cancer with the most advanced techniques. Using a team approach, we strive for excellence. We work with each patient to specifically tailor their treatment to their own clinical situation. One of the common diseases that we treat is colon and rectal cancer.

  • Highly trained, collaborative oncology specialists all currently taking new patients
  • Consultation appointments scheduled within 3-5 days of referral and in some cases same-day appointments available
  • One-stop campus for comprehensive diagnositics and treatment for many types of cancer including radiation, chemotherapy infusion, lab draws and imaging services
  • Onsite infusion center offers comfortable, home-like setting
  • In-office lab testing
  • In-office medication dispensary
  • Open, immediate access to outpatient symptom management
  • 24-hour physician coverage
  • COPI-certified clinical trials
  • We accept most insurance plans including Medicare, Medicaid, and VA