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    Colorectal Cancer

    Diagnosing Colorectal Cancer

    Diagnosing Colorectal Cancer

    Colorectal cancer is a cancer that begins in either the colon or the rectum. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 95,520 new cases of colon cancer in the US in 2017. Moreover, there will be 39,910 new cases of rectal cancer in the US in the same year.1

    Colorectal cancer is largely preventable with routine screening. In average-risk people with no symptoms, Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) doctors recommend regular screening starting at age 50.

    Recommended screening tests such as colonoscopy help doctors detect colorectal cancer at an early stage when it's easier to treat. Colonoscopy is a procedure that allows doctors to look inside your colon and detect problems early, dramatically lowering your risk for colon cancer. During the test, your doctor can find and remove polyps (abnormal growths on the inside surface of the colon) before they turn into cancer.

    If you've been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, MSK is ready to help.

    Most people with early colorectal cancer don't have symptoms, which develop with more advanced disease. The more colon cancer grows, the more difficult it can be to treat.

    If you have symptoms that suggest you may have colon cancer, your doctor will take your medical history, perform a physical examination, and likely order diagnostic tests.

    If MSK doctors suspect you may have colon cancer based on those results, a specialist will do a colonoscopy and take a biopsy. In this test, the doctor removes a small piece of tissue with a special instrument. A pathologist (a doctor who specializes in diagnosing disease) will then examine the tissue sample under a microscope.

    Colorectal Cancer Treatment at MSK

    The colon cancer specialists at MSK use several methods to confirm your diagnosis and determine the stage of your disease. These include physical examination and imaging tests such as CT scans. Your treatment will depend on the size of the tumor and the stage of your cancer. You may have surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or some combination of these. Chemotherapy can be customized based on genetic changes identified in your tumor.

    If you've been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, MSK is ready to help. Each member of your care team is an expert in the field and is dedicated to giving you the best outcome and quality of life possible. MSK provides its patients with the highest-quality diagnostic evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation.

    MSK is engaged in research related to all aspects of care, including new ways to fight colorectal cancer. This means that patients at MSK have access to clinical trials of new treatment options that are not available in most other hospitals.

    For more information about treatment for colorectal cancer, please visit

    > Learn More: Search by Cancer Type at MSK

    1 American Cancer Society. "Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer"

    © 2017 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

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