About Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women and can often go undetected until it has significantly advanced. While more than 90 percent of new cases occur in people 50 and older, the disease has become a reality for many people younger than age 50; it is the only group in which incidence rates are on the rise.
More than 90 percent of colorectal cancers can be cured when caught in their early stages. Early detection is key. Learn the facts and get screened. Preventable. Treatable. Beatable.
The colon and rectum are both a part of the large intestine but they start in different places. The colon is about five feet long, and the rectum is the last six to 12 inches of the colon that extends to the anus.
Rectal cancer starts in the rectum, which is the last 12 centimeters (nearly 5 inches) of the colon. It’s where the body stores stools until you have a bowel movement. Colon cancer can begin anywhere in the colon, which is about five feet long and absorbs water from stool. Both cancers have very similar risk factors, symptoms and treatments.
In addition to its Colorectal Multidisciplinary Care Team, Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center has a specific Rectal Multidisciplinary Team of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and many other specialists to ensure that each rectal cancer patient receives the best care possible through a collaborative environment that gives patients the most effective and individualized plan of care possible.
The National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer (NAPRC), a quality program of the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, has awarded a three-year accreditation to Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. To achieve NAPRC accreditation, a rectal cancer center must demonstrate compliance with the NAPRC standards that emphasize Program Management, Clinical Services and Quality Improvement. In addition, programs must meet standards in addressing the clinical services that the rectal cancer program provides, including Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA) testing, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computerize Tomography (CT) imaging for cancer staging, and ensuring that a patient starts treatment within a defined time frame. Rectal centers seeking accreditation must be accredited by the Commission on Cancer and undergo a site visit every three years.
ENHANCED RECOVERY AFTER SURGERY (ERAS)
Statistics show that patients undergoing ERAS colorectal surgery are being discharged one-half to one day sooner experience less pain than with convention surgical methods. Dr. Louis Barfield, chair of the Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center Colorectal MDC Team, and his colleagues spent about two years fine-tuning the ERAS program to tailor it for the Cancer Center’s patients. The Colorectal Team invested time in researching, talking with colleagues at other gold-standard cancer care organizations and making sure that the ERAS program was perfected for the patient population in this facility. Because of the extensive work put into bringing this new technique to the Cancer Center, patients are experiencing very positive results.
For more information on ERAS, call (225) 767-1156 or read about Delina Schexnayder, a patient who has benefited from this treatment.
Disease Site Team
Disease site teams, or multidisciplinary care teams, are specialists from each diagnostic, treatment and supportive care discipline working together in the same facility where state-of-the-art cancer treatment is given, and relevant research is conducted.
COLORECTAL CANCER RISING IN YOUNGER PEOPLE
Barkley Booker always tells people that getting screened for colorectal cancer is nothing to fear. It’s much better than the alternative of being treated for the disease. Because she took action early, she’s able watch her children grow up and live a healthy, active life. Now, Barkley, who works in sales/consulting, is writing a book about her cancer journey and other life experiences
WHEN TO GET SCREENED FOR COLORECTAL CANCER
Beginning at age 45, men and women should begin screening with one of the examination schedules below:
- A colonoscopy every 10 years.
- A flexible sigmoidoscopy (FSIG) every 5 years.*
- A double-contrast barium enema every 5 years.*
- CT Colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years*
- An at-home, multiple sample Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year*
- Stool DNA (sDNA), Interval Uncertain*
*Colonoscopy should be done if test results are positive.
Forty-five is the recommended age to begin colorectal to begin colorectal cancer screening, unless there is a family history, in which case screenings should start earlier. Other factors such as obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and the amount of intake of red meat can all increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Some families are more colorectal cancer-prone than others due to genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer, referred to as Lynch syndrome. Through genetic testing, Lynch syndrome, often called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, can be identified.
Possible symptoms of colorectal cancer may include a change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days, or a feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so. Other symptoms may be rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, which may make it look dark, cramping or abdominal (belly) pain, weakness and fatigue, or unintended weight loss. Please consult with your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
Clinical trials are research studies that involve human beings in order to test new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose or treat diseases. A drug must be part of a clinical trial before the FDA will approve it to be put on the market. Oncology clinical trials are conducted in order to test new drugs or a new combination of drug treatments, new surgery and radiation therapies and new medical devices.
Every cancer center patient is evaluated for participation in a clinical trial. Those who meet the criteria to participate in clinical research receive a standard of care treatment, but with the added benefit of a trial that may enhance their outcomes.
If interested in volunteering to participate in a clinical research trial, or if you have concerns about the conduct of clinical research, please contact the Clinical Research office at (225) 215-1353, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- American Cancer Society: The American Cancer Society website contains information on many aspects of cancer care geared toward patients and caregivers.
- National Cancer Institute: National Cancer Institute is a federal program that is part of the National Institutes of Health. It has resources and information for patients and caregivers which is based on scientific research.