Colorectal surgery refers to surgical procedures performed in the upper portion of the large intestine also known as the colon and the lower portion – the rectum. Colorectal cancer is an all too common malignancy and unfortunately most patients that die from this disease could have prevented its progression with regular screenings, known as a colonoscopy. Most patients are told to begin routine screening at age 50.
Colon cancer starts as small polyps in the large intestine. These polyps are often visible during the colonoscopy and as such, regular screenings can diagnose the vastly majority of colon cancer in their early stages. If indeed these polyps are found to be malignant and the patient has early-stage cancer, chemotherapy is a very effective treatment to put the cancer into remission. Even if the cancer has spread into the surrounding lymph nodes chemotherapy is a very effective option.
In certain cases however surgical treatment will be required to remove part of the colon. This procedure, known as a colectomy is very delicate, as the large intestine is sensitive to damage. Much like our other procedures, most colectomies are performed in a minimally invasive manner, through small incisions in the abdomen. Our goal is to resect only as much of the large intestine as is necessary to eliminate the malignancy, while doing our best to avoid the need for colostomy (fecal bags). In rare cases however, depending on a patient’s particular circumstance, we may suggest that a colostomy be temporarily used. These are all decisions that will be discussed in depth during your consultation with us.
Colon cancer is not the only reason for a colectomy. Other common nonmalignant diseases such as diverticulitis, Irritable Bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease and more may all require surgical intervention in certain cases.
Most importantly, patients experiencing the diseases listed above should see a medical professional as soon as possible in order to ensure that their condition does not progress to something more severe or life-threatening. While surgery is never ideal, it is often the best opportunity to eliminate the underlying cause of the problem