Colon and rectal cancer care in Denver

At HealthONE hospitals, our expert oncologists are experienced in the screening, diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer. Typically, colorectal cancer is slow-growing, making it highly preventable and treatable.

Knowing this, our multidisciplinary team uses preventive services—including colonoscopies and colorectal surgical procedures—to detect colon cancer early. We work with patients one-on-one to provide support from diagnosis through survivorship.

For more information about cancer diagnosis, treatment and other services, call askSARAH at (303) 253-3225.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last several inches of the colon. These cancers have similar features, so they're often grouped together and referred to as colorectal cancer.

Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, noncancerous growths called polyps. Over time some of these polyps may become colon cancer. Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms. For this reason, we recommend regular screening tests to help prevent colon cancer by identifying and removing polyps before they become cancerous. If cancer is detected, our doctors provide high-quality gastrointestinal (GI) care and cancer care to patients.

Colorectal cancer screening and diagnosis

Everyone is encouraged to begin regular screenings for colorectal cancer at 50 years old. Screenings are important to ensure your body stays healthy and to detect any concerning developments, which may include early signs of cancer.

If you are at an increased risk for developing colon cancer or rectal cancer, talk to your physician about creating a more aggressive screening plan.

We offer the following options to screen for and diagnose colorectal cancer:

  • Biopsy—A biopsy allows the doctor to remove a tissue sample, which is then sent to a pathologist for examination.
  • Colonoscopy—One of the most common routine screening options to detect colon cancer, a colonoscopy is used to examine the bowel’s interior surface for abnormalities, such as polyps.
  • Digital rectal exam—This exam checks the rectum for lumps or abnormalities. About half of colon cancers can be detected with this technique.
  • Fecal occult blood test—Blood in the stool can be an indicator of colorectal cancer. Your stool may also contain blood for other reasons not connected to colorectal cancer. If you experience blood in your stool, contact your healthcare provider.
  • X-ray of the large intestine—An X-ray provides a picture of the colon and can help identify any polyps.
  • Virtual colonoscopy—A virtual colonoscopy is a type of computed tomography (CT) scan. It uses computer software along with CT imaging to examine the colon for polyps.

Colorectal cancer risk factors

Talk to your doctor about more frequent testing if you have any of these colorectal cancer risk factors:

  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Diet high in red meat and low in produce
  • Drinking more than one drink a day (women) or two drinks a day (men)
  • Having an inherited syndrome (such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome)
  • Having Type 2 diabetes
  • Getting less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day
  • Smoking

Symptoms of colorectal cancer

Some patients are diagnosed with colorectal cancer through routine screening, while other patients report experiencing early symptoms, including:

  • Abdominal bloating, cramps or discomfort
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained loss of appetite
  • Weakness or fatigue

Types of colorectal cancer we treat

Our oncologists and surgeons are experienced in treating a wide range of colorectal cancers, including:

  • Bowel cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Colorectal adenocarcinoma
  • Colorectal lymphoma
  • Cowden syndrome
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumors
  • Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer
  • Juvenile polyposis coli
  • Lymphoma of colon
  • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
  • Rectal carcinoids
  • Rectosigmoid cancer
  • Rectum cancer
  • Turcot syndrome type 1 and 2
  • Turcot syndrome with polyposis

Treatment options for colorectal cancer

Our team of doctors, nurses, surgeons and healthcare professionals will work together to create an individualized treatment plan to fit your unique needs. This may include:

Surgery for colorectal cancer

Surgery is the most common type of treatment for colorectal cancer for stages 0-3, as well as stage 4 if the tumor is blocking the bowel. A colon resection, or colectomy, is a procedure where the surgeon removes part or all of the colon and then reconnects the colon.

Other surgical treatments may include a polypectomy, which is a procedure to remove colon polyps. Or, your doctor may also suggest a colostomy. A colostomy is a procedure where one end of the colon is surgically inserted through the abdominal wall to create an opening in the skin. A pouch is then attached to the opening to collect feces.

Minimally invasive surgery

Our board-certified colorectal surgeons are specially trained to use advanced treatment options, including minimally invasive surgical procedures. Our surgeons use minimally invasive techniques, when possible, to provide benefits to the patient including faster healing and reduced scarring. We also offer options for robot-assisted surgery, a type of minimally invasive surgery.

About Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute

As part of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, our family of hospitals provides comprehensive cancer services with convenient access to cutting-edge therapies for people facing cancer in our communities. From diagnosis to treatment and survivorship care, our oncology expertise ensures you have access to locally trusted care with the support of a globally recognized network.

askSARAH helpline

Have cancer questions? We can help. askSARAH is a dedicated helpline for your cancer-related questions. Our specially trained nurses are available 24/7, and all calls are confidential. Contact askSARAH at (303) 253-3225 or chat online at askSARAHnow.