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Most colorectal cancers start as precancerous growths. Your risk for colorectal cancer increases with age, and some people are at an even higher risk depending on their personal or family history. The good news is that colorectal cancer is most often prevented with the removal of precancerous growths, and it can be cured if detected early. Symptoms While colorectal cancer can be accompanied by a number of different symptoms, it often materializes with no symptoms whatsoever or symptoms that are hard to recognize. And because the disease can spread without warning signs, routine colorectal cancer screenings are vitally important. Leading a healthy lifestyle and eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is also key in preventing colorectal cancer. Understanding some of the more discrete symptoms of colorectal cancer can help you recognize them. If you experience the following symptoms—especially if you’re 45 or older—speak with your doctor and get an exam: A change in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days Rectal bleeding, dark stools or blood in the stool Cramping or gnawing stomach pain Decreased appetite Vomiting Unintended weight loss Weakness and fatigue A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so The symptoms of colorectal cancer may resemble other conditions, such as infections, hemorrhoids and inflammatory bowel disease. As previously noted, it is also possible to have colon or rectal cancer and not have any symptoms. Always consult your physician if you have any questions or concerns. Screening The American Cancer Society recommends men and women follow one of the following examination schedules after they turn 45 years old: Stool-Based Tests Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) every year Guaiac-Based Fecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT) every year Stool DNA Test every three years Visual (Structural) Exams Colonoscopy every 10 years CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy) every five years Flexible Sigmoidoscopy every five years Individuals with any of the following colorectal cancer risk factors should begin screening procedures at an earlier age and/or be screened more often. If you have any of the following risk factors, talk with your doctor. Strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps in a first-degree relative, especially in a parent or sibling before the age of 45 or in two first-degree relatives of any age Family with hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer Personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps Personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis) Personal history of radiation to the abdomen or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer Treatment Because no two patients are exactly alike, there are several personal factors that will determine how your Inspira physician will proceed in treating your colorectal cancer, including: Your age and overall health The location of the cancer/tumor in the large bowel Whether it has grown through the bowel wall How far it has advanced For most early-stage colorectal cancers, surgery is the best option as it is the easiest way to remove all present cancer cells. At Inspira, our oncology surgeons use minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgical techniques to reduce organ trauma, bleeding and scarring. Robotic surgery allows surgeons to perform complicated colorectal cancer operations with improved visualization and smaller incisions. For a patient, this mean faster recovery time. Additionally, Inspira has implemented an Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program, shown to improve recovery while reducing opioid requirements, length of stay and readmission rates after colorectal surgery. Colorectal surgery can be used in combination with chemotherapy and radiation therapy to eradicate your cancer more effectively. More advanced cancers may be treated with chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy and/or radiation therapy. If you’d like more information about your or a loved one’s cancer care, or to receive a second opinion about a diagnosis, call 1-800-INSPIRA. Why Choose Inspira? Advanced Technology Meets Compassionate Support We combine cutting-edge medical technology with a human touch, allowing us to provide expert care. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained oncology physicians are well-versed in the latest cancer treatments and are equipped with advanced technologies that can increase your chances for a successful recovery. We also understand that navigating the ups and downs of life with cancer can be overwhelming, which is why we provide a built-in support system of social workers, counselors, navigators, registered dieticians and behavioral health specialists so you and your family don’t have to walk the path to recovery alone. A Comprehensive Approach to Cancer Care Inspira’s oncology physicians take a multi-faceted approach to detecting, diagnosing and treating cancer by looking at your condition from a holistic perspective. Whether you’re just beginning treatment or are a cancer-free survivor, we take everything—genetics, lifestyle habits and other risk factors—into account when designing your care plan. By treating the whole person rather than just the disease itself, we’re able to offer a more targeted, personalized experience. Access to Clinical Trials Inspira participates in clinical trials to explore new ways to prevent, detect or treat cancer. Clinical trials can also focus on other aspects of care, such as improving the quality of life for people with cancer. Participants help others and may also benefit from receiving the newest treatment along with additional care and attention from the clinical trial staff. Cancer Services Close to Home Residents of South Jersey need not travel far to get the best in cancer care—with multiple facilities in the region, Inspira delivers a full breadth of cancer services close to where you live. When you’re not distracted by a long commute to your medical provider, you have more energy to focus on what’s important: healing and getting your life back.