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A Doctor's Call: What Is Colorectal Cancer?

February 24, 2017

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related fatalities in the U.S., behind lung cancer. It is caused by polyps or lesions that form in the digestive tract. If left unchecked, these polyps or lesions can become cancerous, eventually spreading to other parts of the body. While colorectal cancer remains a serious health issue, early screening and prevention is making great strides in reducing the rate of incidence and death. Screening for those 50 and over, in particular, has made a significant difference in detecting and removing remove polyps and lesions before they become cancerous. According to the American Cancer Society, the incidence of colorectal cancer in the U.S. has dropped by 30 percent over the last 10 years – a tribute to the growing awareness about the importance of colorectal screening. For those who receive a colorectal cancer diagnosis, there is hope. The overall mortality rate from colorectal cancer has also been declining significantly in recent years due to advances in research and treatment. Combined, these have helped make great strides in effectively managing and curing the disease. At the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at The Hospital of Central Connecticut, we perform minimally invasive procedures that are precise and effective in removing cancerous tissue without impacting surrounding healthy tissue. For the removal of routine polyps and lesions, it’s not uncommon for patients to be discharged within a day of their procedure, with a greater chance for long-term remission. For those in advanced stages of the disease, a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation is often required. But even in these cases, great strides are being made. Innovations in research and methodology are changing the way we view how cancer  develops, grows and can be treated. As a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute has access to many of the leading-edge clinical trials and research protocols close to home. But the best way that people can fight colorectal cancer is to take steps to prevent: eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and, for those 50 or over, getting screened annually. In other words: avoiding colorectal cancer altogether, or eliminating it in its early stages, is the way to go. Christine Bartus, MD, specializes in colorectal oncology and minimally invasive surgery for the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at The Hospital of Central Connecticut, and provides consultations and other services at the Hospital of Central Connecticut Family Health Center, Suite 104, 22 Pine Street, Bristol. To learn more, call 860.229.8889