Colon cancer is often associated with age, yet its rates have decreased in adults aged 55 and older, while increasing in those under the age of 55 years. When you need treatment for colon cancer, you deserve the extensive care provided by the team at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology. The board-certified doctors and their team offer personalized care, supporting all aspects of your health while you receive colon cancer treatment with today’s most innovative therapies.
Colon Cancer FAQs
What causes colon cancer?
In most cases, colon cancer begins as a polyp that grows in the lining of the colon (large intestine) or rectum. Though polyps are not cancerous when they first develop, over many years, their DNA can change, resulting in abnormal cells that turn into colon cancer.
You have a higher risk for colon cancer if you:
- Are older than 60
- Are African American or of Eastern European descent
- Eat a lot of red or processed meats
- Have colorectal polyps
- Have inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis)
- Have a family history of colon cancer
Some inherited diseases also increase the risk of developing colon cancer.
Is colon cancer preventable?
You can prevent most colon cancers with a screening colonoscopy. During the colonoscopy, your doctor inserts a narrow, flexible tube through your rectum and advances it to the end of the large intestine. The scope contains a video camera that transmits images to a monitor, allowing your doctor to view and evaluate the colon lining.
If your doctor finds any polyps, they remove the mass and send it to a lab to determine if it is cancerous. Removing polyps prevents them from turning into colon cancer. And if cancer has developed, eliminating the polyp cures the disease as long as it hasn’t spread.
What symptoms develop if I have colon cancer?
Colon cancer seldom causes symptoms at an early stage. As the tumor grows or spreads, however, you may experience:
- Changes in your bowel habits
- Bright red blood in your stool
- Dark, tarry stool
- Abdominal pain
- Feeling bloated
- Unexplained weight loss
A change in your bowel habits could mean that you have constipation, diarrhea, narrow stools, or a difference in stool consistency.
How is colon cancer treated?
The first step in treating colon cancer is removing the tumor. The type of surgery you need depends on the extent of the cancer and where it is in the colon. In the early stages, a colonoscopy may be the best option.
If a colonoscopy doesn’t remove all the cancer, you may need a colectomy to remove part or all of the intestine together with the nearby lymph nodes.
Hunterdon Hematology Oncology may perform radiation therapy before surgery to shrink the tumor and/or after surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain. Patients who aren’t good candidates for surgery may have radiation and chemotherapy as their primary treatment.
In addition to radiation oncology and chemotherapy infusion, Hunterdon Hematology Oncology specializes in advanced colon cancer treatments such as:
Targeted drugs may help when your cancer doesn’t respond to chemotherapy. These medications may stop blood vessels from growing in the tumor or suppress growth factors. In both cases, tumor growth stops or slows down.
Cancer cells can activate checkpoints that stop your immune system from attacking the cancer. Immunotherapy drugs target these checkpoints, and restore your immune response, activating your body to fight the cancer.
Hunterdon Hematology Oncology also participates in clinical trials, where you may have access to new cancer treatments.
What other services might I receive for colon cancer?
While you receive colon cancer treatment, you also have access to exceptional services that support your health and recovery.
Hunterdon Hematology Oncology offers a wide range of services in the office, including:
- Dietary counseling
- Lab work
- Symptom management
- Family risk assessment
- Counseling for patients, families, and caregivers
- Scalp-cooling treatment to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy
To receive comprehensive care for colon cancer, call Hunterdon Hematology Oncology today or schedule an appointment online.