According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer] is the third most common cancer in both men and women, excluding skin cancers.
The specialists in the El Camino Hospital cancer program [link to Cancer Care landing page] aggressively treat colorectal cancer, considering every possibility, as our surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists work together to create a personalized treatment plan for you.
Our entire cancer team [link to Care Team page] provides you with compassion and support as you work through the challenges of colorectal cancer.
We offer you hope for a cure, exceeding national benchmarks in colorectal cancer five-year survival rates. Our relentless pursuit of options and answers and our personalized approach help us achieve higher cure rates for early-stage cancers. We’re able to prolong life while maintaining quality of life for advanced stages of colorectal cancer.
Prevention and Early Detection
Although we don’t clearly understand the causes of colorectal cancer, we recommend steps you can take for prevention or early detection of the disease, including:
- Get routine screenings, such as a colonoscopy [Link to Colonoscopy on Endoscopy page in Diagnostic Services], if you’re over age 50 or have a family history of colorectal disease.
- Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods. Limit the amount of processed foods and red meats you eat.
- Exercise frequently — even small amounts on a regular basis will lower your risk.
- Limit consumption of alcohol to two drinks per day for men or one drink per day for women (one drink is defined as 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer).
- Don’t smoke.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Be alert to subtle and significant changes in your intestines. With early detection, we have great success in treating colorectal cancer.
Although some people have no symptoms, the following can signal colorectal cancer:
- Change in bowel habits for more than a few days.
- Rectal bleeding.
- Vomiting or abdominal pain.
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss.
- Fatigue and weakness.
The most effective test to screen for colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy [Link to colonoscopy on Endoscopy page in Diagnostic Services], an exam that uses a long, flexible, lighted tube to view your rectum and colon. Our doctors can look for — and often remove — abnormal growths called polyps and other precancerous tissue.
Other imaging techniques we use include:
- Sigmoidoscopy [Link to sigmoidoscopy on Endoscopy page in Diagnostic Services], which allows your doctor to view the lower part of your colon with a scope.
- Barium enema, which uses dye and X-rays of the abdomen to identify narrowing or blockages in the colon or rectum.
Our multidisciplinary team of surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists tailor a treatment plan to your unique situation, using one or more approaches.
Removing a tumor surgically is often the first line of treatment for colorectal cancer. At El Camino Hospital, colorectal surgeons use minimally invasive techniques to remove tumors from the colon and rectum.
For colorectal cancer, our radiation oncologists deliver radiation beams from outside the body to the cancer cells. CyberKnife® robotic radiosurgery [Link to CyberKnife page] and RapidArc® [Link to Radiation Therapy page] are sophisticated treatment methods that send radiation beams to the tumor with submillimeter precision to allow higher doses in fewer treatment sessions than with traditional radiation therapy.
In addition, we offer brachytherapy, [Link to Radiation Therapy page], in which our radiation oncologist implants high-dose radiation seeds to shrink or destroy the tumor.
Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to destroy cancerous cells. At El Camino Hospital Cancer Center, we aggressively treat not only your colorectal cancer but the side effects of chemotherapy. We respond quickly to give you anti-nausea and pain medication, as well as intravenous hydration. By managing your symptoms, we can keep your treatment course on track for maximum effectiveness.
El Camino Hospital is advanced among community hospitals in using targeted therapy to create a unique combination of drugs to combat your colorectal tumor. We study a sample of your tumor in a lab to analyze the proteins and chemicals that make up the tumor. Then, we use current data to decide which drugs will have the maximum effect in eliminating the cancer.
In addition to advanced therapies, El Camino Hospital offers a variety of specialized services, support and assistance [link to Conditions & Treatments page] to address the psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of you and your family members throughout treatment and recovery.
The El Camino Hospital Cancer Center works with other medical centers and the National Cancer Institute to offer you the opportunity to participate in ongoing clinical trials [Link to Clinical Trials page in About Us]. Ask your doctor if a clinical trial is right for you.