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Colorectal Cancer: General information

Colorectal cancer is a cancer that affects either the colon or the rectum, which are parts of a person’s large intestine and also the lower parts of the digestive system. This type of cancer often begins as a growth, called a polyp, on the wall of the colon or rectum. While polyps are fairly common, only certain kinds of polyps increase a person’s risk of developing this type of cancer.

A person in the early stage of colorectal cancer often shows no symptoms. Because of this, it’s important to get regular colorectal screenings, such as a colonoscopy or a fecal occult blood test, to examine polyps and catch problems early. Most colorectal cancers, however, are associated with the following symptoms:

  • Changes in bowel habits, including more frequent constipation or persistent diarrhea
  • Abdominal bloating or discomfort
  • Blood in the stool, which is the most noticeable sign of the disease
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Vomiting

Colorectal cancer is most common in people over age 50, and the risk of getting it increases with each passing decade, but young people can also suffer from it. Individuals who are at a higher risk of developing the disease include those with a family history of the cancer, people who eat a diet high in fat and cholesterol, people with diabetes, heavy drinkers, and smokers.

The physicians at Tampa General Hospital’s Endoscopy Center provide comprehensive evaluation and treatment for colorectal cancer, such as colectomy surgery. Our team of surgeons, radiologists, nurses, and other specialists provide patients with personalized care. In addition to our skilled staff and use of advanced medical technology, Tampa General has been named one of America’s Best Hospitals for Gastroenterology & GI Surgery by U.S. News & World Report in 2017-18.

To find a physician who treats colorectal cancer, use Tampa General Hospital’s Physician Finder or call 1-800-833-3267.