What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer may include cancers of the colon or cancers of the rectum. It is the third most common cancer for both men and women. Colorectal cancers usually start as a non-cancerous polyp, or growth. When polyps are found, they can usually be removed before cancer is developed.

More than 140,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the U.S each year. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the country. Despite the statistics, colorectal cancer has a high cure rate if it is caught early.

Early-stage colorectal cancer usually does not have any symptoms, so regular testing is crucial to catching polyps that can grow in the lining of the colon, which may turn into cancer.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is how specialists can detect possible polyps or cancer growth in the colon and rectal area. During a colonoscopy a small flexible tube with a camera at the tip is inserted into the anus. It passes through the rectum and colon to detect abnormalities. During this procedure, your physician may biopsy or remove suspicious-looking areas. Patients are sedated for this procedure.

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Who should be screened?

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Generally, men and women at average risk should begin screening at age 45 and continue every 10 years. Those at an increased risk may begin screening sooner and continue with more frequency.

Men and women are also encouraged to speak with their physician about colonoscopies if they:

  • Have had colorectal cancer before.
  • Have a history of ovarian, uterine or breast cancer.
  • Have a family history of colorectal cancer or other genetic factors (e.g. Lynch syndrome, or familial polyposis).
  • Have a personal history of colorectal polyps.
  • Have Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), also known as Crohn’s disease or Colitis.
  • Are obese and/or are physically inactive.
  • Are regular tobacco or alcohol users.
  • Have a diet that is high fat or high in red or processed meat and low in fiber, calcium, fruit and vegetables.
  • Have Type 2 diabetes.

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

The most common symptom of colorectal cancer is a change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation or blood in the stool. Other symptoms include cramping or pain in the lower abdominal (stomach) area, constant tiredness or lack of energy.

Get Screened

Speak to your primary care physician about your risk of developing colorectal cancer. For colorectal screenings, your provider may refer you to a McLaren Greater Lansing specialist, or you may submit a request for an appointment.

Need a new primary care physician? View a list of specialists who are accepting new patients within two to four weeks or less.

Meet our Specialists

  • Oussama Al Sawas, MD Anesthesiology, Gastroenterology

    Location: East Lansing

  • Razvan Opreanu, M.D. Surgery - Colon & Rectal

    Location: Lansing

  • Melissa Richardson, DO Surgery - General

    Location: Lansing

  • Jacquelyn Charbel, D.O. Oncology - Surgical, Surgery - Colon & Rectal

    Location: East Lansing

  • Lucas Julien, MD Surgery - General

    Location: Lansing

  • Dorian Jones , MD Gastroenterology

    Location: East Lansing

  • Radoslav Coleski, MD, PhD Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine

    Location: East Lansing

  • John Walling, Jr., DO Gastroenterology

    Location: East Lansing

  • Iftiker Ahmad, M.D. Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine

    Location: East Lansing

  • Allison Wood, DO Gastroenterology

    Location: Lansing

  • Albert Ross, MD Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine

    Location: East Lansing

  • David Wiedemer, M.D. Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine

    Location: East Lansing

  • Scott Plaehn, D.O. Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine

    Location: East Lansing

  • Nicholas St. Hilaire, DO Surgery - General

    Location: Lansing, Grand Ledge

  • Dana Stewart , DO Gastroenterology

    Location: East Lansing

  • Robert Rose, DO, FACOI Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine

    Location: East Lansing

  • Siaka Yusuf, M.D. Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine

    Location: East Lansing