Colorectal Cancer: A Treatable and Often Preventable Malignancy

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Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but it's also one of the most preventable cancers. Screening for colorectal cancer is one of the best preventive measures and is painless in the vast majority of cases. In this webcast, sponsored by Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Dr. Steven Stryker discusses that many surgeries for colorectal cancer can be conducted with minimally invasive techniques. Dr. Stryker is a surgical oncologist on the medical staff at Northwestern Memorial and professor of Clinical Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The program begins with a discussion of prevention. Dr. Stryker talks about the importance of colonoscopy, how precancerous polyps are detected and easily removed and the guidelines for screening. He then goes on to talk about treatment if something is detected during screening. Dr. Stryker speaks in depth about surgery and radiation and how these therapies are used to effectively treat both precancerous polyps and advanced disease.

He closes by stressing the need for screening through colonoscopy. To quote Dr. Stryker, “First of all, I just want to say that colonoscopies don't need to be unpleasant because we've got a number of medications available to us, including assistance from our anesthesia colleagues, that can make a screening colonoscopy entirely painless.” If you or someone you know is searching for information about colon cancer, look no further.

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Andrew Schorr:

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but it's also one of the most preventable cancers. Coming up on Patient Power we'll discuss all this with a leading surgical oncologist, Dr. Steven Stryker, from Northwestern, and he'll share important tips for prevention and tell us about the advances being made in the treatment of colon cancer. All that next on Patient Power.

Hello and welcome to Patient Power sponsored by Northwestern Memorial Hospital. I'm Andrew Schorr.

Well, when you think of cancers there are three big ones that come to mind right off the bat. Lung cancer certainly is the biggest, but breast cancer well, prostate cancer as well and certainly colon cancer, rectal cancer as well. I think about that a lot because my mother died of colon cancer. She was not screened for it. She chose not to be. It spread to her liver, and eventually in about four and a half years that led to her death. Tragic. It is preventable.

My father, on the other hand, lived to be a ripe old age of 92. He identified early on that screening made a lot of sense for him. He would have colonoscopy, was one of the first patients actually to have it when it was developed and approved. And they'd find those little precancerous polyps, snip them out, and when they did, then at an appropriate interval he would come back, and if they found any more snip them out, but these were precancerous. He never developed colon cancer. He lived a long, full life. That's what we want for you, so we're going to talk about screening, we're going to talk about what you can do for prevention. And should you need treatment we're going to talk about what those options are.

Well, a wonderful person to help us understand that is a surgical oncologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. That's Dr. Steven Stryker. Dr. Stryker, it is such a shame when colon cancer develops and it is advanced because I know it's there are treatments, but it's tough to survive long term. It's variable certainly. Let's talk about prevention because it's a preventable illness, isn't it?

Dr. Stryker:

It sure is, Andrew, and, as you mentioned, that is the tragedy of this particular tumor.

Andrew Schorr:

All right. So colon cancer typically develops slowly. First of all, we'll talk about things we can do, but also with screening when we find those precancerous polyps typically they can be removed and it hasn't developed into cancer, yet, right? It maybe would in a year or two or three, but not then.

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