Colorectal Health

Colorectal Health at UTMB Health

Colorectal health includes disorders of the colon, rectum, and anus. UTMB Health offers experts in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of colon and rectal problems. Our medical professionals treat benign and malignant conditions, and perform routine screenings and examinations.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States and is expected to cause more than 50,000 deaths in 2018. Colorectal (large bowel) cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Together, the colon and rectum make up the large bowel or large intestine. Most colon and rectal cancers start as benign (non-cancerous) wart-like growths on the inner lining of the colon or rectum called polyps.

Risk Factors

There is no single cause for colon cancer. Nearly all colon cancers begin as noncancerous (benign) polyps, which slowly develop into cancer. These are the most common risk factors but if you are aged 45 or older or think you may be at higher than average risk for colorectal cancer, speak with your doctor soon about being screened.

  • AGE: 45 or older.
  • GENDER: Colorectal cancer affects both men and women.
  • MEDICAL HISTORY: Personal or family history of colorectal cancer, polyps, inflammatory intestinal conditions, or certain inherited syndromes.
  • DIET: A high-fat, low-fiber diet with lots of red or processed meats.
  • LIFESTYLE: Low physical activity, obesity, smoking, and heavy alcohol use.
  • Having type 2 diabetes

Signs and Symptoms

Most early colorectal cancers do not have symptoms. This is why screenings are so important. Although colorectal cancer can start with no symptoms, watch for:

  • A change in bowel habits
  • Blood in the stool
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel is not completely empty
  • Stools narrower than usual
  • Frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, or cramps
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Feeling very tired.
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