Colorectal Cancer – The Condition, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Colorectal cancer includes any kind of cancer that affects the lower portion of the digestive tract, including the large intestine, or colon, and the rectum. Although there are many types of colorectal cancer, the majority of cases are classified as adenocarcinomas, which develop in the cells that produce mucus and fluids within the bowels.

Colorectal cancer typically doesn’t present noticeable symptoms in the early stages of its development. When symptoms do become discernable, they often include the following warning signs:

  • Feelings of weakness and fatigue
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Stomach pains
  • Feeling constantly bloated or gassy
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Changes in bowel habits, which may include diarrhea or constipation
  • Abnormally narrow stool
  • Low red blood cell count indicating anemia

No one is yet sure what directly causes colorectal cancer – that is, what causes the original cell mutation that leads to cancer – but there are several known risk factors that can increase someone’s chances of developing the condition. Some risk factors are beyond a person’s control, including the presence of polyps in the bowels, Crohn’s disease (and other chronic intestinal inflammatory conditions), and a family history of cancers of the colon. Others can be controlled, including lifestyle choices like smoking, heavy use of alcohol, and eating a diet that is high in fat and/or red and processed meat.

Tampa General Hospital provides a range of diagnostic and treatment services for those who have or may have colorectal cancer. We use colonoscopies, CT colonographies, fecal occult blood tests, and other imaging and testing methods to determine the presence and extent of colon or rectum cancer. Using the information gathered from these sources, our multispecialty team can develop an individualized plan to address each patient’s specific needs. In some cases, surgical intervention is a beneficial option for patients; TGH performs several different procedures to remove colorectal tumors, including polypectomies, local excisions, and minimally invasive transanal surgeries (TAMIS). This procedure allows patients to avoid having colon resection surgery and colostomy. We perform TAMIS more frequently than any other hospital in west central Florida. Our experienced, highly specialized surgeons can remove the visible tumor while not destroying nearby, healthy tissue.

For a physician referral or to schedule an appointment, please call (813) 844-2200.