Care for colon cancer in South Denver

At the Sky Ridge Cancer Center, our team uses the most advanced treatment and therapies available to find and treat colon and rectal cancers at the earliest stage possible. We will create a treatment plan that is right for you—all in a compassionate, healing environment close to your home.

Did you know that colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the U.S.? However, it is up to 90 percent curable if detected early.

The American Cancer Society now recommends that adults at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45.

Choose Sky Ridge Medical Center for colorectal cancer care because we offer:

  • Multidisciplinary, team approach to care
  • Screening for colon and rectal cancers
  • Cancer Resource Center for support and education
  • Cancer registry for lifetime follow up
  • GI cancer nurse navigator to help with support and coordination
  • Infusion services for chemotherapy treatment
  • On-site radiation therapy services
  • Weekly cancer case conference for medical teams
  • Access to colorectal cancer clinical research trials

What is colorectal cancer?

Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last several inches of the colon. These cancers have similar features, so they're often grouped together and 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 by identifying and removing polyps before they become cancerous.

Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer

Common signs and symptoms for colon cancer include:

  • A change in bowel habits that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in your stool
  • Cramping or abdominal pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

Dr. Ken Blake discusses signs, symptoms and treatment for colon cancer.

Need a colonoscopy? We’re available for Saturday appointments. Call 720-225-1104.

Colorectal cancer risk factors

Being over 45 years old increases your chance of getting colon or rectal cancer. Other factors that may increase your chance of colon cancer include:

  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Diet high in red meat and low in produce
  • Drinking more than one drink a day (women) or two drinks a day (men)
  • Having an inherited syndrome (i.e. familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch Syndrome)
  • Having Type 2 diabetes
  • Getting less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking

Experts say if current trends continue, by 2030, colon cancer incidence rates will increase by 90 percent for people ages 20 to 34.

Read the article on Health & Wellness online

Treatment options for colon cancer

Our team of doctors, nurses, surgeons and healthcare professionals will work together to create a treatment plan that is individualized for you. This may include:

  • Scheduled screenings to help prevent colon cancer:
    • Colonoscopy—Looks at the entire colon and rectum with a small tube and video camera (still the gold standard)
    • Flexible sigmoidoscopy—Looks at a part of the colon and rectum with a small tube and video camera
    • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and Guaiac-based fecal occult blood tests (gFOBT)— looks for blood in a stool sample
    • Stool DNA test
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Medications

Top searched questions about colon cancer

All colon cancers start as polyps. Having polyps removed during colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy prevents the polyp from turning into a cancer.
Surgery is only one way to treat colon cancer. Depending on the stage of the cancer, surgery may not be an option. Surgery can have a curative intent, but it is most commonly used in addition to other cancer treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
The amount of colon and/or rectum that is removed during cancer surgery depends on the location and size of the tumor. It is important to remove enough colon and/or rectum to have negative margins (the tumor is completely removed). Think of a picture in a picture frame - if the picture is the tumor, the matting around the picture represents the margins.
Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in red and processed meats may reduce your risk for developing colorectal cancer.
Radiation therapy can be used to shrink a colon cancer tumor in certain cases. It can also be used to treat lymph nodes that are affected by cancer. The use of radiation therapy depends on the type of cancer, including its location and stage.
Colorectal cancer is staged using the TNM system. The “T” measures the size and depth of the tumor. The “N” measures how many lymph nodes have cancer in them. The “M” measures whether the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body (metastasis). The combination of these categories determines the stage of the cancer, usually ranging from stage 1 to stage 4.
A polypectomy is the removal of a polyp. This is frequently done during colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy.
The frequency of screening for colon cancer is dependent on many different factors including the type of screening test you are using, family and personal history and what is found during screening.
Stage 3 colorectal cancer is usually treated using a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
It is believed that colon cancer, like all forms of cancer, spreads to another part of the body through a series of steps. These steps include invading the surrounding area of where it begins, growing into the nearby lymph nodes. Once in the lymph nodes, microscopic cancer cells move through the lymphatic system into the bloodstream. The cancer cells are carried by the blood to distant parts of the body where they start to grow.
Laparoscopic-assisted colectomy removes all or part of the colon. The surgeon uses a laparoscope for this type of surgery, which makes for smaller incisions.
Recovery after colon cancer surgery depends on many different factors. Generally, with the use of enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) techniques, patients spend approximately three to five days in the hospital after surgery. It is important to remember that recovery continues at home and every person heals differently.
A segmental resection is where a part or segment of your bowel is removed during surgery. Segmental resections can be used to treat colon cancer as well as a variety of other colon problems such as diverticulitis.
The average age people should start screening for colorectal cancer is age 50. Depending on your family and personal history, you may need to start screening earlier.

Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute

As a member of the Sarah Cannon Cancer Network of Excellence, our family of hospitals features leading-edge cancer treatment and clinical trials. Sarah Cannon offers modern therapies for people facing cancer across the U.S., and our partnership provides patients with personal, individualized care while benefiting from the network of resources Sarah Cannon has to offer.

askSARAH helpline

Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Sky Ridge Medical Center is pleased to offer access to askSARAH, a dedicated helpline designed to help answer your cancer-related questions. Whether you have been recently diagnosed with cancer or have questions about screenings, signs or symptoms, a registered askSARAH nurse can help. Committed to ensuring you have the right resources close to home, our nurses are available 24/7 and all calls are confidential. Contact askSARAH at (303) 253-3225 to connect directly to a nurse who can help you today.