Colon Cancer | Colorectal Cancer
Our Approach to Colorectal Cancer Care
In both men and women combined, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths, yet it can be prevented or detected at an early stage. The disease forms in the colon or rectum. MaineHealth provides screening, diagnosis, and treatment for colon cancer and all gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. Screenings for colon cancer can be close to home at community hospitals and specialty practices. Our physician specialists include board-certified colorectal surgeons.
Importance of Screenings
Most colon cancers develop from polyps that can turn into cancer. Screenings can find polyps before they are cancer. People at average risk of colon cancer are recommended for screening starting at age 50. Talk to your provider about scheduling a screening. Some people may be at higher risk and need to be screened earlier:
- African Americans
- People who have close relatives with cancer
- Patients with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)
- Certain genetic syndromes
- Lifestyle factors: obesity, smoking, heavy alcohol use, eating a lot of red meat and fatty foods
Finding a Colorectal Cancer Specialist
If your provider thinks you may have cancer, you will be asked to see specialists who evaluate and treat colon cancer:
- Medical oncologists treat cancer using medicine (chemotherapy, targeted therapy, biotherapy and/or immunotherapy) rather than radiation.
- Radiation oncologists use high-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells while sparing surrounding normal tissue.
- Surgeons focus on the surgical management of cancer
- Cancer Patient Navigators put the patient first, helping you and your loved ones connect to resources and services.
Why Do I Need So Many Doctors?
It is important that cancer specialists highly trained in their area of care participate in evaluating your diagnosis and planning your treatment.
Lower Your Risk of Colon Cancer
Certain lifestyle choices can increase your risk of getting colon cancer. They include:
- Eating lots of red meat (beef, pork, lamb), processed meats (deli foods) and fatty foods
- Heavy alcohol use (eight or more drinks per week for women; 15 or more drinks weekly for men)
- Not getting enough exercise or physical activity
Talk to your provider about getting help to quit or change activities that are affecting your health and putting you at a higher risk for cancer.