Colorectal cancer program
Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most diagnosed cancer in the U.S. among both men and women. About 105,000 new colon cancer cases and 42,000 new cases of rectal cancer are diagnosed annually.
Fortunately, the survival rate has been increasing. Several factors account for this:
Aurora BayCare Medical Center brings patients advanced treatment options and enhanced outcomes. Our team includes surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, genetic counselors and others. Together, they work with patients to develop individualized treatment plans.
Physicians use a variety of diagnostic tools to evaluate the small and large colon and rectum for cancer. One important concept that should not be overlooked is having your primary care provider perform screening stool guaiac tests to look for occult blood when doing routine physical exams and rectal exams. This test detects hidden (occult) blood in the stool. Such blood may come from anywhere along the digestive tract. Hidden blood in stool is often the first, and in many cases the only, warning sign that a person has colorectal disease, including colon cancer. This screening tool may be done annually beginning at 50 years of age.
Some of the more advanced diagnostics are:
Capsule Endoscopy. Visualizing the small intestine has always presented a challenge. While the large intestine is easily visualized via colonoscopy, the technology has not, until now, been available to optically examine the small intestine.
During Capsule Endoscopy the patient swallows a small wireless camera housed in a capsule not much larger than an antihistamine pill. During the capsule's 8-hour passage through the small intestine, it transmits images to special antennae attached to the body. These images are recorded on a device the patient wears like a portable tape player. The patient then returns the recording device to his or her physician, who downloads the images onto a PC, where they can be reviewed.
Colonoscopy. Traditional colonoscopy is available at Aurora BayCare, as well as virtual colonoscopy. This is a procedure that uses special X-ray equipment to produce pictures of the colon. A computer then assembles these pictures into detailed images that can show polyps and other abnormalities. Virtual colonoscopy may cause less discomfort and take less time than a conventional colonoscopy. If a polyp is found, however, an additional procedure such as a traditional colonoscopy is needed to remove the polyp or biopsy an area.
Ultrasonic Endoscopy. This technique combines the optical benefits of endoscopy with the diagnostic advantages of ultrasound imaging. A small ultrasound transducer, mounted in tandem with an endoscope, is guided to the region of interest within the body. The technology yields more detailed images of a small area than is possible with ultrasound scanning done from outside the body.
PET/CT. The combination of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) with Computed Tomography (CT) represents the frontier of diagnostic cancer imaging. The technology provides physicians with 2 sets of information from a single scan: the anatomical data yielded by a CT scan and the metabolic information provided by PET. This relatively new technology is helpful in localizing smaller cancers and in defining areas to which primary cancers have metastasized.