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What Is Colon Cancer?
Signs and Symptoms
Causes

Dr. Anton Bilchik is an internationally recognized colorectal cancer doctor in Los Angeles who has pioneered techniques in the field to improve staging of colon cancer using technological advancements and a minimally invasive approach. For those diagnosed with a form of colorectal cancer, Dr. Bilchik provides a guiding light, one that has earned him the distinction of being one of “America’s Top Surgeons” 10 years in a row. Learning about colorectal cancer and how it affects your body allows you to understand more about your treatment and what it will take to get better.

What Is Colorectal Cancer?

Human_Colon_AnatomyColorectal cancer describes cancer that begins in either the colon or the rectum. It is a blanket term that is used when discussing either, because colon cancer and rectal cancer share many similarities. The colon and rectum are part of the gastrointestinal system, which breaks down food for energy and nutrients before collecting waste and passing it through the body.

Colorectal cancer often forms slowly over a period of several years. What normally happens is a polyp, which is a non-cancerous growth, becomes present on the inner lining of the rectum or colon. Some polyps can develop into cancer, though it depends on the type of polyp it is. Adenomatous polyps develop into cancerous tumors and are seen as a pre-cancerous condition. While hyperplastic and inflammatory polyps are generally benign, it is still important for your doctor to monitor the condition so that they do not develop into something more serious.

Dr. Anton Bilchik treats colorectal cancer with a commitment to comprehensive, personalized care in our colon cancer treatment centers in Los Angeles. Our treatment plans are individualized for each patient’s specific needs.

This type of cancer is dangerous, as well, because as a tumor grows it can grow into the wall of the colon or rectum.  When this happens, the tumor can get into the blood or lymph vessels and metastasize, spreading to the liver, pancreas, and other areas of the body. Speak with Dr. Bilchik about your situation and the best treatment plan to attack colorectal cancer. We can explain the risk factors, the side effects and symptoms involved, and what you can do to combat the disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Many people experience no symptoms at all, especially in the early stages of the disease—this is why screening is so important. Those who do have symptoms may experience any or all of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Changes in bowel habits, including persistent constipation or diarrhea, or changes in the stool consistency
  • Rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, and/or long, thin stools
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort that is persistent
  • Unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and/or loss of appetite
  • Feeling your bowel isn’t empty, even after a bowel movement
  • Feeling of severe constipation (from a rectal mass) or pain during bowel movement

Causes of Colorectal Cancer

The causes of colon cancer are largely unknown, but there is evidence that genetics could play a role. Inherited gene mutations known to contribute to the development of colorectal cancer include (but are not limited to):

  • Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), a rare disorder that causes the growth of thousands of polyps in the lining of the colon and rectum.
  • Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), also called Lynch syndrome, which tends to affect people before age 50.
  • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, which is caused by inherited changes in a certain gene that appears to be a tumor suppressor gene.