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Colon/Rectal Cancer

Colon and Rectal Cancer Staging and Treatment

Community Healthcare System physicians use the latest advances to detect and treat colon cancer at its earliest possible stage. The third most common diagnosed cancer, colon cancer generally begins as a small growth called a polyp. An important tool for preventing colon cancer is screening to remove these growths before they become cancer.
To help identify individuals who may be at risk for developing colorectal cancer due to genetic predisposition, our laboratory performs additional testing to screen for deficiencies in the genes associated with Lynch Syndrome. People with Lynch syndrome also have an increased risk of other cancers, including ovarian, stomach, liver, kidney, brain and skin cancer. If these deficiencies are identified by the screening testing, patients are referred for genetic counseling and additional testing to confirm a diagnosis of Lynch syndrome.

A full range of treatment options from surgery to radiation and medical oncology are available to patients, including advanced genetic testing for targeted drug therapies. For an early stage diagnosis, colon cancer surgery is the primary treatment and our highly skilled, board-certified surgeons utilize the latest minimally invasive approaches for a quicker recovery and to spare patients a permanent colostomy bag. Many of our surgeries are performed with the da Vinci ® robotic surgical system or laparoscopically through small incisions for minimal scarring, less pain and faster recovery.

Our advanced radiation therapy options also spare healthy tissue with the use of 3D conformal radiation therapy and intensity modulated radiation therapy. For cancers that have spread outside the colon to the liver, we offer radioembolization, which delivers a high dose of radiation to the tumor through tiny beads placed inside the blood vessels feeding the tumor. This new treatment is helping to extend the lives of patients with inoperable tumors. For those with advanced colon cancer, new targeted therapies are helping extend survival.

One of the newest technologies available an endoscopic ultrasound that uses a high frequency ultrasound to determine the stage of cancer in patients who have rectal cancer. Previously, patients had to travel outside our region to undergo this testing. 

Our treatment of all cancer patients addresses the mind, body and spirit. Cancer patients have access to a variety of free support groups and mind-body programs - including yoga, tai chi, reiki and art therapy available through the Cancer Resource Centre and through classes at the hospitals. A free lending library at the Munster facility allows patients to check out books, videotapes and use computers to conduct online research.