Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Approximately 150,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed each year, and 50,000 people die from the disease. However, early diagnosis often leads to a complete cure. Almost all colorectal cancer starts in glands in the lining of the colon and rectum.
Those who are over the age of 50 and have a family history of colorectal cancer are at highest risk. Other factors include obesity, diabetes and smoking.
Colorectal cancer can often be asymptomatic. However, the following symptoms are indicative of the disease:
- Abdominal pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen
- Blood in the stool
- Diarrhea, constipation or other change in bowel habits
- Weight loss with no known reason
With proper screening, colorectal cancer can be detected before symptoms develop, when it is most curable. Signs include:
- A stool test with traces of blood.
- A CAT scan – patients will sometimes get these for other reasons and signs of colorectal cancer appear.
William Outlaw, MD, is a gastroenterologist in Greensboro and a member of the Cone Health Medical and Dental Staff. Outlaw received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Florida College of Medicine in 2001. He completed his residency in internal medicine, as well as his fellowship in gastroenterology and advanced endoscopy at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.