Catching and treating colorectal cancer early

By: Imad Shbeeb, M.D., medical director, Colorectal Surgery Program, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, Long Beach Medical Center

Colorectal cancer (colon and rectal) is the 3rd most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the U.S. The good news is that it’s often preventable with regular screenings.

When adults get regular colonoscopies, colorectal cancer can be detected early at a stage when treatment is most likely to be successful, and in some cases, it can be prevented through the detection and removal of precancerous polyps.

Who Needs to Be Screened?

Starting at age 50, people at average risk for colorectal cancer should have a colonoscopy every 10 years. However, there are several factors that put people at increased risk. People at high risk may need regular screenings at an earlier age or more frequently.

Factors that may increase risk, include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Eating a diet high in fat and low in fiber
  • Personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
  • Family history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
  • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Racial and ethnic background
  • African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence of all racial groups in the U.S.
  • Certain inherited gene mutations

Determining Risk for Colorectal Cancer

It’s important for people to discuss their personalized risk with their doctor to determine when screenings should begin and how often. However, anyone concerned about a personal or family history of cancer may benefit from cancer genetic counseling and risk assessment.

The Cancer Risk & Prevention Program at the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center offers comprehensive cancer genetic counseling and assessment to help people understand their risks and empower them to take steps toward cancer prevention.

Using Advanced Technology to Treat Colorectal Cancer

If someone receives a colorectal cancer diagnosis, the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute offers the latest in cutting-edge technology, diagnostics and advanced treatments to care for patients with cancer of the colon and rectum.

Dedicated surgeons trained in these specific cancer types use the most advanced surgical system available – the da Vinci® Xi™ Surgical System – to perform operations through a few small incisions resulting in:

  • A shorter hospital stay
  • Fewer complications
  • Less pain
  • Less scarring

Not all patients need surgery, and some may benefit from combining surgery and other minimally invasive treatments techniques, such as interventional radiology and interventional endoscopy.

Both fields of medicine use advanced technology to diagnose and treat cancers early and in a minimally invasive fashion (without a large incision). Interventional radiology uses imaging coupled with the use of tools, such as catheters or needles to diagnose and even treat cancer. While interventional endoscopy combines imaging with the use of a thin, flexible tube to stage and diagnose cancer.

To learn more about these and other advanced treatments available at Long Beach Medical Center, visit

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