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Alex Jenny Ky, MD, FACS, FASCRS

Board Certified Colorectal Surgeon

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Polyps and Cancers

The last 4-5 feet of the gastrointestinal tract is the colon and rectum.  This area is prone to polyps which are often benign growth that can become colon and rectal cancer.  The polyps, which are slow growing tissues, can be flat, round or on a stalk.  They can grow in any part of the colon and rectum and can be detected best by colonoscopy.  Imaging test can also detect but a biopsy of the tissue cannot be done without a colonoscopy.  Most colon and rectal polyps are benign and removing the polyps also removes the risk of cancer before the polyp becomes cancerous.


Colon and rectal cancer (CRC) are the third leading cause of cancer in the United States.  It does not discriminate between sex or ethnicity.  Colorectal cancer risk includes those over the age of 50, although younger patients recently have an increase incidence of CRC.  Also, those who smoke, are sedentary or increase in alcohol intake, family history of CRC as well as a personal history, inflammatory bowel disease are also at higher risk.


Screening for CRC

Most patients with early CRC do not have any symptoms.  However, that is the most common excuse of patients who refuses their baseline screening colonoscopy.  Without any personal or family history, The American Cancer Society and other cancer prevention authorities recommend that CRC should start at age 50.  If there is a personal or family history of cancer, or a history of inflammatory bowel disease, the screening will need to start earlier.  


Treatment of CRC

CRC is one of the most curable cancers.  Once the diagnosis of colon and rectal cancer have been made from tissue biopsy, the cancerous tissue itself needs to be removed and the cancer then staged.  For stages 3-4, chemotherapy for colon cancer, and chemoradiation for rectal cancer may be used to treat advanced cancers.  


Surgery for CRC

The technology has changed and continues to improve in the treatment of CRC.  Most surgeries can be done either laparoscopically or robotically.  This allows for smaller incisions, less recovery time, and less immunosupression, which can lead to better cancer survival.