Advanced Care When Every Second Counts
Colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. It usually begins as an abnormal growth, called a polyp, that forms in the colon or rectum.
Colorectal cancer often goes undetected until it is more advanced, making timely and highly effective treatment a necessity for any patient with the disease. At UT Southwestern, our specialists are dedicated exclusively to treating colorectal cancer using the most advanced treatments and technologies available.
Our multidisciplinary team includes gastroenterologists; medical, radiation, and surgical oncologists; and support staff who focus solely on colorectal cancer. As a team, we are able to provide patients with timely, comprehensive care that leverages the knowledge and expertise of each specialty.
Causes and Risk Factors
The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases after age 50. People are also more likely to get it if they have:
- Colorectal polyps
- Family history of colorectal cancer (approximately 5 to 6 percent of colorectal cancers are hereditary)
- Ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease
- A high-fat diet
- A history of smoking
Although it’s a leading cause of cancer death for both men and women, colorectal cancer can be more easily and successfully treated if detected early. It’s important to be aware of risk factors and get regular screenings for the best chance at early detection.
To ensure an accurate and timely diagnosis, we use the latest diagnostic technologies, such as:
- Contrast barium enema
- Fecal immunochemical tests
- Fecal occult blood tests
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
Once we determine a diagnosis, we collaborate closely with each patient to create a personalized care plan. Depending on the stage and nature of the cancer, we might recommend one or a combination of treatments.
Surgery is often the first-line treatment for colorectal cancer. Today’s techniques allow us to offer surgery that is much less invasive than the colostomy of the past.
UT Southwestern surgeons perform two procedures for colon cancer – polypectomy and colectomy. Both of these surgeries remove less tissue than previous procedures, allowing the patient to return to his or her normal activities after a shorter recovery time.
Depending on the severity of the cancer, our team might suggest chemotherapy, radiation, or both in addition to surgery.
We offer a variety of support services for colorectal cancer patients and their families, such as:
As a medical research institution, UT Southwestern conducts frequent clinical trials, giving our patients access to the newest treatments for colorectal cancer. Each patient should speak with his or her doctor about the availability of clinical trials.