Colorectal Cancer (Colon Cancer and Rectal Cancer)
Your colon and rectum are organs that help you eliminate waste (stool) after the body digests the food you eat. Colorectal cancer (as well as colon cancer and rectal cancer) happens when abnormal cells form in the lining of the colon or rectum.
The Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute’s doctors are skilled in delivering a broad range of colorectal cancer treatments. We’re able to successfully remove the cancer while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible. What’s more, our capabilities allow more people to have normal bowel movements after completing treatment.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer
The earliest sign of colorectal cancer is a growth (polyp). And we often remove them during a colonoscopy. As the polyp grows, it may cause symptoms such as:
- Tiredness (weakness)
- Weight loss you cannot control
- Blood in your stools that make them appear a dark color
- Change in bowel habits, which may include frequent diarrhea or narrow stools
- Feeling the urge to have a bowel movement after just having one
- Cramping in your belly
Colorectal cancer, colon cancer, and rectal cancer care at Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute
You can count on us for effective care that meets your needs. We have held the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI®) designation since 2011. To maintain this designation, we use cancer care methods that consistently lead to excellent results. Highlights of our program include:
Our doctors meet on a regular basis to make sure our practices reflect the latest advances in colorectal cancer care. These efforts bring you new treatments and care techniques years ahead of when they might otherwise be available. Get more information about our cancer disease management teams.
We are one of few cancer centers in the region with a gastrointestinal pathologist. This doctor examines tissue samples to accurately diagnose colorectal cancer. Our team also includes one of the country’s first board-certified surgeons specializing in complex cancer procedures. Meet our cancer team.
Access to clinical trials
Our participation in cancer research gives you access to national clinical trials, including many options for colorectal cancer. Clinical trials allow you to receive promising treatments, including new chemotherapy drugs, close to home. Find out more about cancer research and clinical trials.
Membership in Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance
We are the region’s only member of the MSK Cancer Alliance. We work alongside world-renowned cancer experts to deliver exceptional care. Read more about our membership in the MSK Cancer Alliance.
Colorectal cancer treatments
Your treatment may include:
This treatment uses drugs to halt cancer cell growth. We recommend the drugs that are best for you and tailor doses to meet your unique needs. Get more information about chemotherapy.
We break up cancer cells using beams of energy and other substances. We use the latest technologies, including the Varian Edge® radiosurgery system. This system delivers a high dose of radiation, allowing you to complete treatment in fewer, shorter visits.
Selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT) is a treatment approach for metastatic colorectal cancer. Y-90 resin microspheres are tiny radioactive “beads” used in SIRT, sometimes referred to as Y-90 radioembolization. SIRT treats stage IV colon cancer that has spread to the liver and can't be surgically removed. Learn more about radiation therapy.
Nonsurgical (endoscopic) procedures
Instead of making incisions to access the cancer, we use surgical instruments and a tiny camera we pass through the anus. We also use a special technique called endoscopic mucosal resection to detect and remove cancers that can be easy to miss.
Our surgeons remove cancer while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible. We also use robotic surgery, which offers a level of precision that is not available with other techniques. Find out more about cancer surgery.