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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

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Colorectal Cancer Surgery

Colorectal cancer affects about 150,000 people every year, making it the third most common cancer in both men and women. Colorectal cancer is most often treated with surgery to remove the tumor, and possibly, chemotherapy and radiation.

Colorectal Cancer Surgery Terms

  • Polypectomy is a procedure in which polyps -- small growths on the inner lining of the colon -- are removed during a colonoscopy, a procedure in which a special instrument (the colonoscope) is inserted into the rectum to view the rectum and colon.
  • Local excision can be used to treat cancers in the rectum (the lowest portion of the colon). The procedure involves removing the cancer and some tissue of the wall of the rectum. It may be done through the anus (the opening of the rectum) or through a small cut in the rectum. The procedure does not require major abdominal surgery.
  • Resection involves the removal of part, or all, of the colon along with the cancer and its attaching tissues.
  • Laparoscopic surgery The word "laparoscopy" means to look inside the abdominal cavity with a special camera or scope. To perform laparoscopy, between 3 and 6 small (5-10 mm) incisions are made in the abdomen. The laparoscope and special laparoscopic instruments are inserted through these small incisions. The surgeon is then guided by the laparoscope, which transmits a picture of the intestinal organs on a video monitor.

What Is Laparoscopic Surgery?

Until recently, all bowel or intestinal surgery was done through long abdominal incisions, which resulted in a painful and lengthy recovery. In the early 1990s, doctors started using a laparoscope, an instrument that had primarily been used to treat gynecological problems and gallbladder disease, to perform certain types of bowel surgery. Rather than making long incisions common in traditional "open" surgery, laparoscopic surgery requires only small incisions to perform the same operation. Another type of laparoscopic surgery is called hand-assisted and allows for one of the surgeons hands to be inserted into the abdominal cavity while still viewing the procedure with the laparoscope.

The benefit of using this surgical approach is that you will likely experience less pain and scarring after surgery, a more rapid recovery, and less risk of infection.

Colorectal surgeons have used laparoscopy to treat the following conditions:

  • Crohn's disease
  • Colon cancers
  • Diverticulitis
  • Familial polyposis
  • Certain colon polyps that cannot be removed by colonoscopy
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Rectal prolapse
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Certain rectal cancers


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