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.

March is colorectal cancer awareness month

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.



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 team is leading the Cancer Center’s efforts to achieve the National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer (NAPRC). Administered by the American College of Surgeons. The NAPRC’s goal is to ensure that patients with rectal cancer receive appropriate care using a multidisciplinary approach. Right now, only two hospitals in the U.S. have achieved it.



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.



Beginning at age 45, men and women should begin screening with one of the examination schedules below:

1. A colonoscopy every 10 years.
2. A flexible sigmoidoscopy (FSIG) every 5 years.*
3. A double-contrast barium enema every 5 years.*
4. CT Colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years*
5. An at-home, multiple sample Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year*
6. Stool DNA (sDNA), Interval Uncertain*

*Colonoscopy should be done if test results are positive.


Young girls- colorectal cancer

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


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.


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

Trial Number: Alliance A021502

Title: A Phase II Clinical Trial Platform of Sensitization Utilizing Total Neoadjuvant Therapy (TNT) in Rectal Cancer

Purpose: The primary objective of this study is to demonstrate an absolute improvement in Neoadjuvant Rectal Cancer (NAR) score for the experimental regimen as compared to control.

Physicians: Drs. Bryan BienvenuVince CataldoRobert FieldsDavid HansonMaurice KingKellie SchmeeckleJoseph ShowsDerrick SpellJingya WangCharles Wood, Siva Yadlapati, and Lauren ZatarainJames CarinderAndrew Elson and Jack SauxNaveed Khan and Jeffery Long.

Offered in: Baton Rouge, Covington, Houma

Trial Number: SWOG 1417CD

Title: Implementation of a Prospective Financial Impact Assessment Tool in Patients with Metastatic Colorectal Cancer (S1417)

Purpose: The primary objective of this study is to estimate the incidence of treatment-related major financial hardship over 12 months, among patients with newly diagnosed metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) treated at components and subcomponents of the NCI Community Oncology Research Program(NCORP)

Physicians: Drs. Bryan BienvenuDavid HansonKellie SchmeeckleDerrick SpellJames CarinderJack SauxNaveed KhanVince CataldoJoseph ShowsSiva Yadlapati and Lauren Zatarain

Offered in: Baton Rouge, Covington, Houma

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Trial Number: EAQ162CD

Title: Longitudinal Assessment of Financial Burden in Patients with Colon or Rectal Cancer Treated with Curative Intent

Purpose: This research trial studies the financial burden in patients with stage I-III colon or rectal cancer who are undergoing treatment.

Physicians: Drs. Bryan Bienvenu, Vince Cataldo, Robert Fields, David Hanson, Kellie Schmeeckle, Joseph Shows, Derrick Spell, Siva Yadlapati and Lauren ZatarainJames Carinder and Jack Saux; Naveed Khan, and Genevieve Maronage.

Offered in: Baton Rouge, Covington, Houma