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Colon & Rectal Cancer

As the third-leading type of cancer and the third-leading cause of cancer deaths, colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable if detected early.

Benefit from the recommended colon and rectal cancer screening methods – including colonoscopy – at Avera locations across the Upper Midwest.

What Is Colorectal Cancer?

Colon or colorectal cancer starts in the large intestine (colon) or the rectum (end of the colon).

Recognize Colorectal Cancer

The most common symptoms include bleeding from the bowel, a change in bowel habits—such as unusual episodes of diarrhea or constipation—or an increase in the amount of mucus in the stool. You also may experience:

  • Pain or tenderness in lower abdomen
  • Constipation
  • Narrow stools or blood in stool
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

Many symptoms mirror those of irritable bowel syndrome. Always see your provider if a change in bowel habits lasts more than two or three months.

Screen for Colorectal Cancer

After celebrating your 50th birthday, make colorectal cancer screenings a regular part of your health care routine. Schedule your colonoscopy at least once every 10 years to help your doctors catch colorectal cancer in its earliest stages or before precancerous polyps develop into cancer.

Colonoscopy, the most important screening and diagnostic tool for colorectal cancer, allows physicians to see and remove precancerous polyps, look for suspicious lesions, and obtain a biopsy if needed – all in one procedure.

Download our free colorectal educational guide to learn more about colorectal cancer and colonoscopy screenings at Avera.

Treat Colorectal Cancer

If you receive a colorectal cancer diagnosis, count on Avera’s Cancer Patient Navigators to walk you through each step of the treatment process.

Take advantage the latest technology at Avera to treat colon cancer.

  • Surgery removes all or part of the colon is often the first line of treatment for colorectal cancer. Procedures may use minimally-invasive techniques, including laparoscopy, robotics, or a single incision procedure, which result in less pain, a shorter hospital stay and shorter recovery time.
  • Chemotherapy helps prevent recurrence if the cancer has spread, or relieve late-stage cancer symptoms.
  • Radiation therapy may be offered before surgery to shrink a tumor to make a procedure more successful, or after an operation to prevent spread of the disease.
  • Genetic testing and counseling checks for hereditary links which may affect other members of the family.
  • Clinical trials identify new treatment options that may better meet your needs.

Assess Your Colon Cancer Risk

Risk factors for colon cancer include:

  • A personal or family history of precancerous colon polyps or colon cancer
  • Reaching age 50 or older, or age 45 or older if African-American
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's colitis or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

See your doctor if you experience gastrointestinal bleeding, change in bowel habits, unexplained abdominal pain or unintentional weight loss. These may all be signs of colorectal cancer.

Gain further insight about your potential risk for colon cancer by taking our free, online health risk assessment.

Colon Cancer Resources

Learn more about colorectal cancer topics in our health library.

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24/7 Cancer Support

If you live within the Avera region, you can get the support you need 24/7 and find answers to your cancer-related questions or concerns. Call or email the Avera Cancer Institute Navigation Center today.


Avera Cancer Institute Magazine

avera cancer institute magazine coverStay on top of cancer-related developments by reading the latest issue of our Avera Cancer Institute magazine.

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