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Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is found in the colon or rectum. It is represented by the growth of polyps in the lower portion of the digestive tract, which can become cancerous. Colorectal cancer is often treated with chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. Colonoscopies are performed as screening measures to identify potential polyps.

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Colorectal cancer surgeons in Florida

Digestive problems are common — whether it be an upset stomach, bloating or nausea. Most often, all of these things can be signs of everyday conditions.

But when they persist, it may be time time to talk to a specialist, as they can also be symptoms of something more serious, such as colorectal cancer. At HCA Florida Physicians — a network of physician practices across the state — our doctors are here to help prevent, detect, diagnose and treat all forms of colorectal cancer.

Our treatments and services for colorectal cancer

Colon cancer is cancer that occurs in the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the last several inches of the colon. Because both of these cancers have similar features, so they're often grouped together and referred to as colorectal cancer. We offer many services for colorectal cancer, including screening, diagnostics, treatments and support.

Colorectal cancer screening and diagnosis

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourage patients to begin regular screenings for colorectal cancer at 50 years old. However, if you are at an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer, our physicians may recommend earlier and more aggressive screening options.

Our screening options include:

  • Colonoscopy — One of the most common routine screening options to detect colon cancer is a colonoscopy. During a colonoscopy, the doctor uses a thin tube, which is inserted into the rectum to examine the bowel’s interior surface for abnormalities, such as polyps.
  • Digital rectal exam — This exam allows the doctor to manually check the rectum for lumps or abnormalities.
  • Fecal occult blood test — Blood in the stool may be an indicator of colorectal cancer. Because of this, your doctor may order a fecal occult blood test to check your stool for the presence of blood.
  • X-ray of the large intestine — An X-ray provides a picture of the colon and can help identify any polyps.

Colorectal cancer risk factors

You may want to talk to your doctor about more frequent testing if you have any of these colorectal cancer risk factors:

  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Diet high in red meat and low in produce
  • Drinking more than one drink a day (women) or two drinks a day (men)
  • Having Type 2 diabetes
  • Getting less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day
  • Smoking

Symptoms of colorectal cancer

Some symptoms of colorectal cancer are also symptoms of common noncancerous conditions. However, knowing the symptoms of colorectal cancer can help you decide when to see a doctor.

The signs and symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal bloating, cramps or discomfort
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained loss of appetite
  • Weakness or fatigue

Treatment options for colorectal cancer

Our specialized physicians understand that colorectal cancer can be different for each person. Because of this, they will tailor your care plan to fit your unique situation, using different options for treatment.

Radiation Therapy

A common type of cancer treatment — radiation therapy — is used to shrink or destroy a tumor. During radiation therapy, beams of energy — or radioactive particles — are aimed directly at the tumor to shrink the cancerous cells. This ability to directly target the tumor causes less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Surgery for colorectal cancer

Because colon cancer can often produce symptoms that mimic other gastrointestinal conditions, one of our gastrointestinal (GI) doctors is often the first line of defense in the fight against colon cancer. You will also see a GI specialist for routine screenings, which is another common way colorectal cancer is detected.

After your diagnosis, you will likely be referred to one of our colorectal cancer specialists. These specialists have extensive experience treating colorectal cancer and partner with the other cancer specialists and medical professionals in our network to provide comprehensive care.

Additionally, our colorectal cancer specialists understand that care doesn't just stop after your treatment ends. That's why our doctors continue to provide follow-up care, working to ensure many healthy years to come.

Supportive colorectal cancer care team

Because colon cancer can often produce symptoms that mimic other gastrointestinal conditions, one of our gastrointestinal (GI) doctors is often the first line of defense in the fight against colon cancer. You will also see a GI specialist for routine screenings, which is another common way colorectal cancer is detected.

After your diagnosis, you will likely be referred to one of our colorectal cancer specialists. These specialists have extensive experience treating colorectal cancer and partner with the other cancer specialists and medical professionals in our network to provide comprehensive care.

Additionally, our colorectal cancer specialists understand that care doesn't just stop after your treatment ends. That's why our doctors continue to provide follow-up care, working to ensure many healthy years to come.