Colorectal Cancer: Treatment & Prevention

Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most common diagnosed cancer in the United States

As many as 80 percent of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented if everyone 50 years or older had a regular screening says the Colon Cancer Alliance.

Colorectal cancer is a cancer that forms in the colon or rectum. This cancer usually develops first as colorectal polyps. These polyps can then go on to become cancerous growths. This form of cancer is quite common.

Dr. Hayder Al-Azzawi, MD, a board-certified colorectal surgeon says, “There are certain medical problems like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease that can lead someone to being predisposed to developing colorectal cancer.”

“It is also possible to develop colorectal cancer without having any symptoms,” says Dr. Al-Azzawi. He recommends the best course of action to stay ahead of this common cancer is to have a colonoscopy at the age of 50 for average risk patient. After the first screening, if no symptoms or polyps were found, it is recommended to get checked every 8-10 years after. If polyps were seen during the screening, following checkups could be every 5 years depending on the size and quantity of the polyps. It is recommended to go for a screening at an even earlier age in persons with a family history of colon or rectal cancer or certain colorectal diseases.

While colorectal cancer is common, it also has a relatively high five-year survival rate. “Rectal cancer treatment usually consists of a major open abdominal surgery with or without chemoradiation therapy” says Dr. Al-Azzawi. However, there is a much more advanced, minimally invasive surgical option available called Transanal Minimal Advanced Surgery (TAMIS) for early rectal cancer. This procedure can have patients home the next day, without having a colostomy bag, reduced pain and no scars.

Dr. Al-Azzawi specializes in the treatment of colon and rectal cancer and is one of the few doctors offering this advanced minimally invasive approach to his patients. Dr. Al-Azzawi is also an expert in robotic surgery, which has even more advantages over laparoscopic techniques. Robotic surgery and TAMIS helps him visualize and carry out the minimally invasive procedures more efficiently and effectively, bettering the outcomes for his patients.