Colon cancer refers to cancer of the large intestine (colon) while rectal cancer refers to cancer of the last 6 inches of the colon (rectum). Cancers affecting either of these organs are collectively known as colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men around the world, and fourth most common for women.
Colorectal cancer occurs when some of the cells that line the colon or the rectum become abnormal and grow uncontrollably. Most cases of colorectal cancer begin as small, benign clumps of cells called polyps. Over time some of these polyps may become cancerous. Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms.
Regular screening tests can help prevent colon cancer by identifying polyps before they become cancerous. If signs and symptoms of colon cancer do appear, they may include changes in bowel habits, blood in your stool, abdominal pain, bloating, and fatigue.
In colorectal cancer surgery, the cancerous part of the colon or rectum is removed, along with some normal tissue on each side to ensure no cancer is left behind. Dr. Kim offers minimally invasive laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgical techniques to ensure the fastest, most comfortable recovery process for patients. In many cases, the healthy portions of the colon or rectum can be reattached during surgery. However, if this is not possible (for example, if the cancer is at the outlet of your rectum), you may need a permanent or temporary colostomy. This involves creating an opening in the wall of your abdomen for the elimination of body waste into a special bag.