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What is a colon and rectal surgeon?
Colon and rectal surgeons are experts in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of colon and rectal problems. They have completed advanced training in the treatment of colon and rectal problems in addition to full training in general surgery. Colon and rectal surgeons treat benign and malignant conditions, perform routine screening examinations and surgically treat problems when necessary.
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer happens when cells that are not normal grow in your colon or rectum￼. These cells grow together and form tumors.
This cancer is also called colon cancer or rectal cancer. It is the third most common cancer in the United States. And it occurs most often in people older than 50.
When it is found early, it is easily treated and often cured. But because it usually is not found early, it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.1 Screening tests can prevent this cancer, but fewer than half of people older than 50 are screened. According to the American Cancer Society, if everyone were tested, tens of thousands of lives could be saved each year.
What causes colorectal cancer?
Most cases begin as polyps￼, which are small growths inside the colon or rectum. Colon polyps are very common, and most of them do not turn into cancer. But doctors cannot tell ahead of time which polyps will turn into cancer. This is why people older than 50 need regular tests to find out if they have any polyps and then have them removed. And some people who are younger than 50 need regular tests if their medical history puts them at increased risk for colorectal cancer.
What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer usually does not cause symptoms until after it has begun to spread. See your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
-Pain in your belly
-Blood in your stool or very dark stools
-A change in your bowel habits, such as more frequent stools or a feeling that your bowels are not emptying completely
How is colorectal cancer diagnosed?
If your doctor thinks that you may have this cancer, you will need a test, called a colonoscopy, that lets the doctor see the inside of your entire colon and rectum. During this test, your doctor will remove polyps or take tissue samples from any areas that don't look normal. The tissue will be looked at under a microscope to see if it contains cancer.
Sometimes another test, such as a sigmoidoscopy, is used to diagnose colorectal cancer.
How is colorectal cancer treated?
Surgery is almost always used to treat colon and rectal cancer. The cancer is easily removed and often cured when it is found early.
If the cancer has spread into the wall of the colon or farther, you may also need radiation or chemotherapy. These treatments have side effects, but most people can manage the side effects with medicines or home care.
Learning that you have cancer can be upsetting. It may help to talk with your doctor or with other people who have had cancer. Your local American Cancer Society chapter can help you find a support group.
How can you screen for colorectal cancer?
Screening tests can prevent many cases of colon and rectal cancer. They look for a certain disease or condition before any symptoms appear. Experts recommend routine colon cancer testing for everyone age 50 and older who has a normal risk for colon cancer. People who have a higher risk, such as African Americans and people with a strong family history of colon cancer, should be tested sooner. Talk to your doctor about when you should be tested.
These are the most common screening tests:
- Stool tests that check for signs of cancer.
- Fecal occult blood test (FOBT).
- Fecal immunochemical test (FIT).
- Stool DNA test (sDNA).
- Sigmoidoscopy: A doctor puts a flexible viewing tube into your rectum and into the first part of your colon. This lets the doctor see the lower portion of the intestine, which is where most colon cancers grow. Doctors can remove polyps during this test also.
- Colonoscopy: A doctor puts a long, flexible viewing tube into your rectum and colon. The tube is usually linked to a video monitor similar to a TV screen. With this test, the doctor can see the entire large intestine.
- Computed tomographic colonography (CTC): This test is also called a virtual colonoscopy. A computer and X-rays make a detailed picture of the colon to help the doctor look for polyps.
What is a colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine￼ (rectum and colon). He or she uses a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope to look at the colon. A colonoscopy helps find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected (biopsy) and abnormal growths can be taken out. Colonoscopy can also be used as a screening test to check for cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum (polyps).
The colonoscope is a thin, flexible tube that ranges from 48 in (122 cm) to 72 in (183 cm) long. A small video camera is attached to the colonoscopy so that your doctor can take pictures or video of the large intestine (colon). The colonoscope can be used to look at the whole colon and the lower part of the small intestine. A test called sigmoidoscopy shows only the rectum and the lower part of the colon.
Before this test, you will need to clean out your colon (colon prep). Colon prep takes 1 to 2 days, depending on which type of prep your doctor recommends. Some preps may be taken the evening before the test. For many people, the prep for a colonoscopy is more trying than the actual test. Plan to stay home during your prep time since you will need to use the bathroom often. The colon prep causes loose, frequent stools and diarrhea so that your colon will be empty for the test. The colon prep may be uncomfortable and you may feel hungry on the clear liquid diet. If you need to drink a special solution as part of your prep, be sure to have clear fruit juices or soft drinks to drink after the prep because the solution tastes salty.
Do I need a colonoscopy?
If you, or someone you know, answers yes to any of the
following, a colonoscopy is recommended:
- Family/personal history of colorectal cancer
- Family/personal history of colorectal polyps
- Age 50 or older without symptoms
- Rectal bleeding (bleeding is never “normal”)
- Abdominal pain
- Change in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation etc)
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Screening and early detection, along with the removal of polyps, can have a dramatic effect on colon cancer prevention.
Dietary Fiber Intake Information
Daily Recommended Fiber Intake
25 grams per day, for women younger than 50
21 grams per day, for women older than 50
38 grams per day, for men younger than 50
30 grams per day, for men older than 50
Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber
Most nutritionists and diet experts suggest that approximately 20-30 percent of our daily fiber intake should come from soluble fiber.
Extra Fiber May Need Extra Water
Dietary fiber soaks up water and increasing your fiber intake may divert water from cells. So when increasing your fiber consumption, be sure to increase your intake of fluids accordingly.
Not Too much Fiber from Wheat Bran
Wheat bran contains phytates - chemicals which attach themselves to minerals and make them unavailable to the body. So to avoid calcium and other mineral deficiency, it's best to get your fiber from a variety of good sources, like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans.
Increase Your Fiber Intake Gradually
If your diet is currently low in dietary fiber, don't raise your fiber intake too quickly, as this may trigger flatulence, bloating and other side effects. Instead, start including one or two high fiber foods daily. Then, every three or four days, add another high fiber food, and so on.
Dietary Fiber Chart:
High Fiber Diet:
Bran, cereals, oatmeal, granola
Whole Grain Products:
Whole wheat, whole bran products, rye, oats, buckwheat, stoneground corn meal, breads, pasta, pancakes and muffins made with whole grain flour, popcorn, brown rice.
Legumes - Dried beans, peas, baked beans, garbanzos, kidney beans, split peas, dried limas, pinto and black beans
Fresh Raw Vegetables - Carrots, celery, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, scallions, eggplant, raddishes
Other Vegetables - Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, sweet corn, asparagus, potatoes (potatoes should be boiled and mashed)
Greens - Spinach, beet, kale, collard, swiss chard
Almonds, brazil, peanuts, walnuts, coconut (consume these sparingly because of high fat content)
Dried - Dates, raisins, figs, apricots, etc.
Fresh raw fruits and berries - Bananas, apples, grapes, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, apple sauce (may be cooked also)
Preserves - Chunky orange marmalade
To increase your dietary fiber, be sure to eat bran cereal and whole wheat bread daily. Eat at least two fresh fruits and two of the fresh vegetables listed above daily, in addition to drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water daily.
Food and Beverages To Avoid
Cola Drinks (Coke, Dr. Pepper, etc)
Juice (Orange, Tomato, Grapefruit)
Whole Milk Products
Tomato Products (Catsup, BBQ sauce, Picante sauce, etc)
Postum, Brim, Sanka
Sprite, 7up, Fruit Juice
Fresh Fruit or Other Juices
Lactaid, Yogurt, Buttermilk
Fresh Fruits, Nuts, Carob