Colon cancer most often occurs in the lower part of the large intestine. In most cases, this disease starts as a benign polyp on the wall of the bowl, increases in size, and changes to a malignant tumor. This type of cancer, if detected in the early stages, is highly treatable.
The cause of colon cancer is unknown; however, researchers suspect that a diet high in animal fat (red meat) and low in fiber play a role in developing this form of cancer. Cigarette smoking is linked to colon cancer. A family history of colon polyps is an additional risk factor. Men and women are equally susceptible to colon cancer, especially after the age of 40.
The first symptom of a problem with the colon is a change in normal bowl movements. These can be constipation, diarrhea, narrow stool, or a feeling that the rectum is not completely empty. Other symptoms are abdominal pain, a bloated sensation, nausea, unusual digestive noises, blood in the stool, or bleeding from the rectum.
If you have symptoms of colon cancer, you should visit your primary care doctor for a physical, starting with digital rectal examination (DRE). During this exam, a stool sample will be taken and tested for hidden blood. If cancer is suspected, then additional tests such as a CT scan, a colonoscopy, and a barium x-ray may be taken. If cancer is present, surgery is typically recommended.
Cancer that has not developed beyond the inner lining of the colon can be surgically removed using the colon scope. Tumors in more advanced stages require abdominal surgery in which the tumor is removed along with a portion of the bowel and possibly some lymph nodes. Some advanced cancers cannot be treated by surgery alone. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and biological therapy may be used in combination after surgery to help the patient manage this disease.
Minimally Invasive Treatment
Surgical treatment options are traditional open surgery or minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery. Both surgeries are effective at removing the cancer, but laparoscopic techniques have the benefit of shorter hospital stay, quicker recovery time, less pain, and less scarring because the smaller incisions. During open surgery, a large incision (up to 12 inches in length) is made through the abdominal muscles to get at the colon and the surrounding area. The colon is cut, the diseased portions are removed, the two ends of the colon are stitched back together, and the main incision is closed with sutures or staples.
Using laparoscopic surgery, Dr. Aldoroty may make several small incisions in the patient’s abdomen. A laparoscope—small video tube—is inserted into one of the dime-sized incisions to give us a magnified view of the colon and the surrounding area of the body. This view is projected onto a TV monitor while specialized instruments are carefully guided into another opening to perform the operation. This technique is just as effective as open surgery with the benefits of an easier recovery for the patient. Even though laparoscopic surgery is the preferred treatment, some patients are precluded from this option for one of the following conditions: obesity, prior abdominal surgery, dense scar tissue, or the inability for the surgeon to see the affected area through the minimally invasive cuts.
Please contact Dr. Aldoroty's office to learn more about all of the individualized, complete, and advanced medical procedures available to meet your healthcare needs.
For your convenience, his office is open Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Friday 9:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m., and by appointment.