Colon Cancer – Hereditary and Recurrent Cancer – North Houston and West Houston, TX

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About Colon Cancer

Of the colorectal conditions and disorders that can negatively affect your digestive and overall health, colon cancer is one of the most noteworthy. Colon cancer occurs when cells in the large intestine begin to mutate and multiply, forming cancerous tumors throughout the colon, rectum, or even spreading beyond to other areas of the body. Colon cancer often begins as noncancerous polyps that form along the lining of the rectum, which can develop into cancerous tumors over time. Due to its similarities with rectal cancer, the two are often spoken of together — the primary difference is rectal cancer develops within the rectum (the bottom portion of the colon where waste is stored). Since these benign, precancerous polyps usually don't carry any notable symptoms, it's important to receive regular colon cancer screenings. At Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery, our skilled team of board-certified surgeons is highly knowledgeable about colorectal cancers. Using advanced technology and specialized skills, our North Houston and West Houston, TX offices will work hard to diagnose and treat your cancer at any stage.

Types of Colon Cancer

While there are many types and subtypes of colon cancer, the most common forms are hereditary and recurrent. Genetic, or hereditary, colon cancer is associated with a particular abnormality in the DNA. This abnormality is passed down through generations, potentially increasing a person's risk of developing the disease. It's been shown that patients with a family history of colon cancer may possess a mutation in their DNA that causes cells in the colon to change — becoming cancerous — and multiply. During your consultation, our surgeons will assess your family history to determine your likelihood of developing the condition. Other individuals who run a high risk of developing colon cancer are those who have a personal history of the disease. When colon cancer returns, it may spread to other areas of the body.

SIGNS and SYMPTOMS

While there are currently no known causes of colon cancer, there seems to be a strong link to mutations in the DNA of affected individuals. This means that those with a family history or personal history of colon cancer are more likely to develop the disease. While benign polyps don't often cause any symptoms, certain signs will emerge when the areas turn cancerous. Some of the symptoms you may experience if you have colon cancer are:

  • A dramatic change in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, stool that is too runny or too firm)
  • Feeling incapable of completely relieving yourself
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in stool
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain, including gas or cramps

Those who are over 50 years of age and have a personal history of polyps or inflammatory intestinal conditions (like Crohn's disease and ulcerative diabetes) may also be at an increased risk of developing colon cancer at some point in their lives. 

Colon Cancer DIAGNOSIS

If you arrive at one of our North Houston or West Houston, TX offices exhibiting signs of colon cancer, we will assess your medical and family histories to learn more about your risks. From there, we will conduct a colonoscopy. This procedure involves running a long, thin tube along the large intestine so we can determine if any tumors are present. If any abnormalities are observed, a biopsy will be taken, and all small polyps will be removed. The biopsied tissue will then be sent in for testing. We may also run blood tests to ensure that your vital organs (such as the kidneys and liver) are functioning correctly. If colon cancer is detected, our team will run a series of imaging tests on the abdominal, pelvic, and chest areas to find out how far along your cancer is and if it has spread beyond the colon. Our board-certified surgeons at Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery urge individuals who are 50 years or older to receive regular colon cancer screenings to ensure that any issues are caught as early as possible. This will allow our team to remove any benign polyps before the cells can become cancerous and multiply.

Colon Cancer Treatment Options

The treatment options available for people suffering from colon cancer are many in number. Our board-certified surgeons will craft a personalized cancer treatment plan to restore your overall health and allow you to enter the remission phase of your illness. Frequently, our surgeons will remove polyps from the large intestine either via a colonoscopy or other minimally invasive means. Other treatments you could benefit from are radiation therapy, chemo, targeted drug therapy, or various surgical alternatives.

  • Radiation therapy utilizes powerful energy sources, such as x-rays and other devices, to externally kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy may also be employed to shrink the size of a tumor, making it easier for a minimally invasive surgical removal to take place. Radiation can often be paired with chemotherapy to effectively target malignant cells.
  • Chemotherapy involves the use of medication to destroy or shrink cancer cells that exist in the large intestine. When the tumors are smaller, they may be easily removed with a minimally invasive surgical procedure. Certain chemotherapy drugs can also be used to relieve certain symptoms of colon cancer. Chemotherapy is regularly paired with radiation therapy for a comprehensive approach to treatment.
  • Targeted drug therapy is reserved for patients whose cancer is in an advanced stage. This treatment utilizes medication to focus on certain abnormalities within malignant cells. When these abnormalities are blocked, it can cause the affected cells to die. Targeted drug therapy is often paired with chemotherapy as they treat cancer with similar means.
  • Early-stage surgical treatments include the removal of polyps during a colonoscopy (polypectomy), endoscopic mucosal resection, and minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery. An endoscopic mucosal resection involves removing a small amount of the inner lining of the colon while minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery takes place when small incisions in the abdominal wall are created to remove polyps.
  • Later-stage surgical treatments might consist of surgically removing lymph nodes, cancerous regions of the colon and resectioning the tissue, or creating an opening into the abdominal wall and temporarily implementing a stoma bag for waste to collect outside of the body as the colon heals following an operation (also called a colostomy). Depending on your unique circumstance, a colostomy may be a permanent solution.

Throughout your treatment program, our colorectal surgeons may run periodic blood tests to monitor the amount of the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) chemical in your blood. A gradual decrease of this chemical can often indicate that the patient is responding well to treatment.

COLON CANCER TREATMENT

Colon cancer is a common form of cancer that originates in the large intestine and may spread throughout the body if not treated. When detected early, this disease can be easily monitored and managed with minimally invasive procedures and nonsurgical therapies. Even if your cancer has progressed to the point of spreading, our compassionate team of board-certified surgeons will work with you to ensure that your physical, mental, and emotional well-being are handled with care. If you come to our office with concerns that you may have cancer, our team will schedule you in for a consultation as soon as possible to assess your condition and work to restore your health. Contact Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery today to schedule your colon cancer screening or ask about any issues you may be experiencing.

*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.