Carolinas HealthCare System
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Colorectal Cancer

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For more information about our Colorectal Cancer program, call
980-442-2000 or 800-804-9376.

I would like to receive additional information from Levine Cancer Institute.

Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Although colon cancer affects men and women equally, rectal cancer is more common in men.

Colon Cancer: Early Detection

When colon and rectal cancers are found early, there is almost a 90 percent chance for cure. Early detection is the key to the best patient outcomes.

It is generally recommended to have colon cancer screenings beginning at age 50; those with a family history of the disease or other factors that put them at higher risk for developing colon cancer are usually advised to start testing earlier.

Genetic Connection to Colon Cancer

About 80 percent of colon cancer cases are sporadic, meaning that the cause is not known. The other 20 percent are hereditary.

People who have a first-degree family member with colon cancer are more likely to be affected themselves. About five percent of this group have a predisposition to hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome), a rare disease that generally strikes people ages 30 to 50.

Levine Cancer Institute is staffed with a team of Certified Genetic Counselors that are available for genetic testing, interpretation and counseling for you and your family if needed. For more information on our Clinical Genetics Program, please call 980-442-2000 or 800-804-9376.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
  • Bloody stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constant stomach cramping
  • Weight loss

Diagnosing Colon Cancer

There are many methods for diagnosing colon cancer. Some of these procedures are also used as screening devices to detect colon cancers in the early stages, when treatment is more successful.

  • Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT): A stool sample is examined for traces of blood not visible to the naked eye. If you see blood in your stool, contact your doctor immediately.
  • Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT):  A take-home test that detects blood proteins in stool. A small, long-handled brush is used to collect a stool sample, which is placed on a test card and sent to a lab for examination.
  • Sigmoidoscopy: A tiny camera with flexible plastic tubing is inserted into the rectum, providing a view of the rectum and lower colon. This procedure can also be used to remove suspicious tissue for examination.
  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscope is a longer version of a sigmoidoscope, and can examine the entire colon. Patients must be sedated for a colonoscopy.
  • Virtual colonoscopy: Instead of a scope, physicians use imaging technology to view the colon. Air is pumped into the colon to expand it for better imaging. Virtual colonoscopy can be performed with computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Double Contrast Barium Enema (DCBE): Barium is a chemical that allows the bowel lining to show up on X-ray. A barium solution is administered by enema; then the patient undergoes a series of X-rays.
  • Digital Rectal Exam: The doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to feel for polyps or other irregularities.
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA): A blood test that determines the presence of CEA, a substance, or tumor marker, produced by some cancerous tumors. This test can also be used to measure tumor growth or assess if cancer has recurred after treatment.

It is generally recommended to have colon cancer screenings beginning at age 50; those with a family history of the disease or other factors that put them at higher risk for developing colon cancer are usually advised to start testing earlier. 

Colon Cancer Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are a large part of our Institute. Our research team is constantly obtaining the latest information in various trials to discover what is best for patient outcomes.

Focus on the Patient

Communication with patients and caregivers are an important priority at the Institute. We believe that treating the whole person, not just the disease, is best for patients and family members.

At the Institute, we offer a broad range of emotional support programs designed to help patients and family members cope with the range of issues related to life during and after cancer treatment.

Learn more

For more information on our Colorectal Cancer Program, call 980-442-2000 or 800-804-9376.

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