Colorectal Cancer Surgery
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer (not including skin cancer) in both men and women and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Colorectal cancer refers to cancer that begins in either the rectum or the colon. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are similar conditions, but each has different surgical treatment options.
Colorectal cancers are slow growing as well as easily treatable in their early stages. Unfortunately, symptoms of early stage colorectal cancers can only be observed during a screening exam. Once patients begin to experience colon cancer symptoms, the disease may be more advanced and getting a colonoscopy is more critical. This means that scheduling regular colorectal cancer screening tests could literally save your life.
Most men and women should begin colorectal cancer screening tests at the age of 50, but African Americans as well as people with a family history of the disease or a personal history of colon problems are more likely to develop colorectal cancer than the general population. They should begin screenings at the age of 40 or 10 years prior to diagnosis in the family member. (For more information, visit our cancer screening guidelines page.)
Furthermore, if you experience a change in bowel habits, blood in your stools, abdominal discomfort, changes in appetite, unexplained weight loss, and/or general fatigue, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor for a cancer screening. Other risk factors for developing colon or rectal cancer include:
- Being 40-years-old or older
- Genetics and family history with the disease
- History of a previous colorectal cancer, polyps in the colon or rectum
- Women with a history of cancer of the ovary, endometrium, breasts or stomach
Colorectal cancer screening options include:
- Stool test to check for blood in the bowel movements
- Air contrast barum enema
- Sigmoidoscopy to examine the lower part of the colon
- Colonoscopy (the most definitive test) to allow the doctor to examine the entire colon.
(If you would like to schedule a colorectal screening, you can call us at 310.360.9119 to make an appointment with our doctors.)
If Polyps Are Found During Screening
The most common finding of early stage colorectal cancer is polyps in the colon or rectum. Polyps are abnormal growths in the large intestines that can be often found during a screening test. Though not all are malignant (cancerous), polyps are still viewed as pre-cancerous growths. If they are not removed, they can lead to the development of colon cancer.
If a polyp or problem area is detected during a colonoscopy, the doctor will likely biopsy or remove the problematic area. The results will give doctors a good idea of the proper course of treatment.
If you are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, your doctor will likely recommend a course of treatment designed to treat your specific situation. Surgery is the most likely course of treatment. Chemotherapy and or radiation therapy may also be necessary in select patients.
The Los Angeles colorectal surgeons at Pure Health are highly experienced in performing several types of colorectal cancer surgeries. If you have been diagnosed with colon cancer, rectal cancer, or both then our doctors can expertly perform your surgery. Contact us at 855.360.9119 to schedule your consultation.
Colon Cancer Surgeries
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, and it occurs when cells in the colon mutate and become malignant cells. These colon cancer growths, polyps or tumors, develop within the wall of the intestine.
Cancer of the colon grows very slowly. If caught at an early stage, colon cancer has a high cure rate. Unfortunately, early stages of colon cancer do not present symptoms. Colon cancer screening tests are needed to find signs, which present themselves as polyps in the colon. This underscores the importance of regular colon cancer screenings.
The treatment for early stage colon cancers usually involves surgery. Some common surgical colon cancer treatments include:
- Laparoscopic-assisted colectomy
- Open colectomy
- Polypectomy and local excision
Laparoscopic-assisted colectomy is a relatively new type of surgery that removes part of the colon and nearby lymph nodes. Instead of one large incision, like in tradition open surgery, this procedure involves just a few small incisions. Patients typically have a shorter recovery time from laparoscopic procedures as well as fewer complications and less scarring.
Laparoscopic-assisted colectomies take place in an inpatient setting, which means the patient will stay in the hospital on average from 3-5 days. The colorectal surgeons at Pure Health can perform this surgery but do so in a hospital setting. Only skilled doctors can perform this procedure successfully, and our colorectal surgeons are some of the best in the business.
An open colectomy is similar to the laparoscopic procedure in that it involves the surgical removal of part of the colon and nearby lymph nodes. However, the open colectomy is traditional open surgery, with one large incision, and is performed in a hospital setting. Our doctors can perform open colectomies but not at an outpatient surgical center like Pure Health.
A polypectomy and local excision is a surgery that is performed only for early stage cancers. Polyps are removed by a colonoscope during a colonoscopy or through a trans-anal procedure. The beauty of this surgical procedure is that no incision into the abdomen is necessary, and it can be performed in an outpatient setting at Pure Health Surgery Center.
Rectal Cancer Surgeries
Rectal cancer occurs when malignant (cancerous) cells form in rectal tissue. The rectum makes up the last six inches of the digestive system along with the anus. It helps transport waste out of the body.
Depending on individual circumstances, there are several options for patients facing rectal cancer surgery:
- Rectal polypectomy and local excision
- Local transanal resection
- Transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM)
- Low anterior resection
- Proctectomy with colo-anal anastomosis
- Abdominoperineal (AP) resection
- Pelvic exenteration
A rectal polypectomy and local excision procedure is performed in an outpatient setting. A local transanal resection is another procedure that does not require an outside incision. Instruments are inserted into the anus that cut through, and later sew up, rectal tissue to remove cancerous tissue as well as some surrounding tissue.
Transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) is sometimes used for early stage rectal cancers with that are located too high in the rectum for a local transanal resection. A specially designed scope (a small surgical instrument with a light and camera) is inserted through the anus and into the rectum to remove the cancerous and surrounding tissues.
Low anterior resections are open surgical procedures performed on some stage one rectal cancers and most stage 2 or 3 cancers. During the operation, a larger part of the rectum is removed and the colon is re-attached to the rectum. This procedure takes place in a hospital setting, and can be done laparoscopically with an average recovery time of three to six weeks.
Proctectomy with colo-anal anastomosis is similar surgery to low anterior resections and can also be done laparoscopically. The difference is that this surgery involves the removal of the entire rectum (proctectomy), with the colon then surgically connected to the anus (colo-anal anastomosis). The recovery time for this procedure is also three to six weeks.
An abdominoperineal (AP) resection is similar as well to low anterior resections, but it is used for colorectal cancers that have spread to the sphincter muscle located in the lower third of the rectum. The lower part of the rectum is closest to the anus. In this procedure, the anus is removed, leaving patients in need a permanent colostomy to allow stools a pathway out of the body. The recovery time for this procedure is also about three to six weeks.
Pelvic exenteration is an extensive operation used when rectal cancer begins to spread into nearby organs. The rectum is removed during this operation as well as any nearby organs to which the cancer as spread. These nearby organs include the bladder, prostate (in men), or uterus (in women). A colostomy may be needed as will a urostomy (a pathway for urine to exit the body) if the bladder is removed. Our surgeons are well trained in sphincters preserving surgeries to avoid the need for a permanent colostomy wherever possible.
Experienced Colorectal Surgeons in Los Angeles
The Pure Health Department of General & Colorectal Surgery specializes in treating diseases and conditions of the abdominal region in addition to the digestive organs. Our colorectal and general surgeons were trained at some of the country’s finest medical schools. We specialize in minimally invasive procedures that lower the risk of complications, infections, and scarring while remaining just as effect as traditional surgery but with usually shorter recovery times.
Contact Pure Health today at 855.759.2626 or fill out the website contact form.