Colon cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment in Palm Beach County

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. It is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of the digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last several inches of the colon. Together, they are often referred to as colorectal cancer.

Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, noncancerous growths, called polyps. Over time, some of these polyps become colon cancer. Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms. For this reason, we recommend regular screening tests to help prevent colon cancer or find it at an early stage when it is smaller and easier to treat.

At JFK Medical Center’s Comprehensive Cancer Institute, our cancer treatment center in Palm Beach County, Florida, offers a team approach to colorectal cancer care. Each patient’s individualized care plan is formulated by a multidisciplinary team of experts, which includes:

  • Colorectal surgeons
  • Gastroenterologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Pathologists
  • Physical therapists
  • Radiologists
  • Nutritionists
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) oncology nurse navigators
  • Social workers
  • Genetics counseling

Colon cancer can be difficult to identify with easily identifiable symptoms, which is why it cannot be emphasized enough that people undergo routine screenings for a potential early diagnosis. However, symptoms might become apparent; we recommend you schedule a colon screening if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain and discomfort in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A change in bowel movements (diarrhea or constipation)
  • Feeling that your bowels are not emptying completely
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in your stool
  • Cramping or abdominal pain
  • Constant fatigue

Risk factors for colorectal cancer

Two of the most common risk factors that increase your chance of getting color or rectal cancer include having a personal or family history of polyps or colorectal cancer and being 45 years old or older. Other lifestyle factors that may increase your chances include:

  • Low-fiber and high-fat diet
  • Low fruit and vegetable intake
  • Lack of regular exercise
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use
  • Overweight (obesity)
  • Insufficient intake of clean, safe water
  • Being of African American descent
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis

Diagnosing colon cancer

The American Cancer Society recommends that adults at average risk of colorectal cancer begin screening at 45 years old. Those with symptoms or family history should be screened sooner. Early detection is key, as colorectal cancer can be up to 90% curable if caught early.

Colorectal cancer treatment options

As seen on CBS12, Dr. Heidi Bahna, discusses colorectal cancer and other diseases and disorders.

Our team of doctors, nurses, surgeons and healthcare professionals will work together to create an individualized treatment plan for you, which may include:

  • Surgery, with robotic, laparoscopic or traditional surgical techniques
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Active surveillance