The average lifetime risk for developing a colorectal cancer in a person who has no increased risk factors is about 6%. Nearly all of these cancers start as a polyp. A family history of precancerous polyps, colon or rectal cancer, and certain other cancers, may increase your risk. Only 5% of colon cancers come from genetic syndromes. This means that up to 95% of colorectal cancers are preventable.
Family history is important. The biggest risk factor comes from a first degree relative (parents, siblings, children) or multiple second degree relatives (cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews). Colorectal cancer may also occur in genetic syndromes – HNPCC or Lynch Syndrome and Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP). Conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis also increase that risk.
The only way to prevent colon cancer is to find it as a polyp and remove it before it becomes a cancer. If a polyp is too large to be removed during colonoscopy or is found to contain or be a cancer, then surgery is typically necessary to remove the lesion.
When a colon cancer is present, the lymph nodes that drain that cancer need to be included in the portion removed. Fortunately, most surgery is done with tiny incisions (laparoscopy, robotics) which speeds recovery.
Rectal cancer is not always treated the same as colon cancer. Often, rectal cancer needs a combination of chemotherapy and radiation prior to surgery. This may help shrink the tumor, possibly sterilize lymph nodes, and helps in sphincter saving surgery so a permanent bag is unnecessary. Other rectal polyps and early cancers can be removed without any incisions at all by TEMS or Transanal Endoscopic Microsurgery. In order to determine if you are a candidate for TEMS, or in need of radiation and chemotherapy prior to surgery, the lesions need to be staged. Rectal cancer is staged with endorectal ultrasound, which is performed by the surgeon to see what treatment option is best.
If a colorectal cancer grows too large, it can block the bowel (large bowel obstruction). Symptoms of obstruction will include progressive narrowing of the stool or ribbon-like stools. Nausea and vomiting may be present as well as abdominal distention and abdominal pain. Oftentimes, when a person is obstructed, we can relieve that obstruction with a colonic stent to open the tumor similiar to how cardiologists open vessels with stents. This allows us to determine if surgery is needed for future cure and plan minimally invasive surgeries, often without the need for colostomy bags.
To see an example of colonic stent placement please click the link below:
Another form of minimally invasive abdominal surgery that is available incorporates robotic assisted technology. This technology enables the Center for Colon & Rectal Health surgeons to perform operations through a few small incisions and features several key advantages including:
- Magnified vision system that gives surgeons a 3D HD view inside the patient’s body
- Ergonomically designed console where the surgeon sits while operating
- Wristed instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human hand
At St. Mary Medical Center, the Center for Colon & Rectal Health surgeons are using the daVinci Si Surgical System. The da Vinci Si Surgical System is currently the most advanced operative robotic unit available. Our advanced colorectal surgeons are the only colorectal surgeons performing colorectal robotic assisted procedures in Bucks County and one of only a few in the region.
Benefits of Colorectal Surgical Procedures with the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System
The da Vinci benefits both the patient and the surgeon.
For the patient, robotic surgery maintains all the benefits of laparoscopy. Additionally, the robot controls exactly how the laparoscopic ports move through the abdominal wall causing less pain. Other benefits include less trauma, less scarring, and a quicker return to normal activity.
For the surgeon, the robot has three major benefits. The first is that the surgery is performed at an operating console that allows the surgeon to see in three dimensions (3D). This 3D view is an in-depth look that is similar to real life. Laparoscopy is in 2D; the equivalent to watching a flat screen TV. The second benefit is that the robot has three operating arms as opposed to the surgeon who only has two! This allows additional maneuverability and better performance. Thirdly, the robotic arms have a range of motion better than the human hand.
Our goal is to provide you with a safe and comfortable environment. Every patient is different. We strive to offer you the most accurate and effective treatment options.
Please contact Bucks County’s premier colorectal group to schedule an appointment and to learn more.
St. Mary Medical Center
St. Clare Medical Building, Suite 130
1203 Langhorne-Newtown Road
Langhorne, PA 19047