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Colon Cancer

Colon, or colorectal, cancer starts in the large intestine (colon) or the rectum (end of the colon). Unfortunately, colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States. However, early diagnosis can often lead to a complete cure. 

There is no single cause of colon cancer. Nearly all colon cancers begin as noncancerous (benign) polyps, which slowly develop into cancer. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 314-996-3627 or contact us online.

You have a higher risk for colon cancer if you: 

  • Are older than 60 
  • Smoke cigarettes 
  • Are African American or of eastern European descent 
  • Eat a diet high in red or processed meats 
  • Have cancer elsewhere in the body 
  • Have colorectal polyps 
  • Have inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis) 
  • Have a family history of colon cancer or certain genetic syndromes 
  • Have a personal history of breast cancer 

Symptoms 

Many cases of colon cancer have no symptoms. The following symptoms, however, may indicate colon cancer: 

  • Abdominal pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen 
  • Blood in the stool 
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or other change in bowel habits 
  • Narrow stools 
  • Weight loss with no known reason 

Signs and tests 

With proper screening, colon cancer can be detected before symptoms develop, when it is most curable. 

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and press on your belly area. The physical exam rarely shows any problems. A rectal exam may reveal a mass in patients with rectal cancer, but not colon cancer. 

A fecal occult blood test (FOBT) may detect small amounts of blood in the stool, which could suggest colon cancer. However, this test is often negative in patients with colon cancer. For this reason, a FOBT must be done along with colonoscopy. It is also important to note that a positive FOBT doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer. 

Only a colonoscopy can see the entire colon, and this is the best screening test for colon cancer. 

Treatment 

Treatment depends on many things, including the stage of the cancer. In general, treatments may include: 

  • da Vinci Robotic Surgery: At Missouri Baptist, many colon cancer surgeries can be done using minimally invasive surgery, including da Vinci Robotic surgery and/or laparoscopic surgery. 
  • Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells 
  • Radiation therapy to destroy cancerous tissue

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 314-996-3627 or contact us online.

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Missouri Baptist Medical Center
3015 North Ballas Road
St. Louis, Missouri 63131
314-996-5000
Missouri Baptist Outpatient Center — Sunset Hills
3844 South Lindbergh Blvd.
Sunset Hills, Missouri 63127
314-525-0500
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