Colorectal cancer: early diagnosis and treatment

Written by: Dr. Ramón Díaz Conradi
Published: | Updated: 17/11/2018
Edited by: Anna Raventós Rodríguez

It is advisable to go to the specialist in General Surgery to perform tests for early detection of colon and rectal cancer from the age of 50, with colonoscopy being the ideal test, although the personal characteristics of each patient should always be taken into account.

People who are at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer should be screened at an earlier age of 50 years.


The main tests to detect colon cancer are:

  • Hidden blood in the stool : There are several types of clinical tests in laboratories, which detect the presence of blood in the stool, which can be a symptom from hemorrhoids to advanced cancer. These are very sensitive tests but if they give a positive result they would indicate the need to perform other more exclusive tests.
  • Sigmoidoscopy : This test only examines the rectum and the sigmoid colon, so if a colonoscopy can be performed it is better because of its amplitude. Sigmoidoscopy can be done without sedation. Experts recommend performing this test every five years and every three years for people with risk factors. • Colonoscopy: This test examines the rectum and colon. Detects any abnormalities in the colon and rectum, can be biopsied and even removed. Before the test, which is done under sedation, a complete cleaning of the entire colon is necessary. It is recommended to perform a colonoscopy every 10 years in people at risk while continuing to obtain normal results.
  • Virtual colonoscopy : This detection method produces images of the colon and rectum with a CT Scanner. A computer shows detailed images of the inside of the rectum and colon. Virtual colonoscopy is less aggressive than regular colonoscopy and does not require sedation. A complete colon cleansing is necessary before this test, and air or carbon dioxide that is pumped into the colon to expand it and better see the lining of the colon. The accuracy of virtual colonoscopy is similar to that of regular colonoscopy and presents less risk of complications. The disadvantage is that if polyps or other abnormal tumors are found during virtual colonoscopy, they can not be biopsied.

colon drawing It is currently not known if virtual colonoscopy helps reduce mortality from colorectal cancer, but it is used as in patients in whom normal colonoscopy can not be performed for any reason.

  • Barium Enema of double contrast : It is a radiological test where Barium contrast is introduced through the Anus to draw the Rectus and Colon inside. It is done with the patient awake, biopsies can not be taken and small lesions can go unnoticed. This method is carried out if the above exposed can not be performed for any reason.

Other tests such as CT or Scanner can detect established tumors or suspicious inflammations but if it is suspected that there may be an injury, a colonoscopy will be done to take a sample of the lesion.


Diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer

The diagnosis of colorectal cancer can only be made by anatomopathological analysis of the specimen excised in a biopsy or excision during colonoscopy or Sigmoidoscopy. Once established that there is a colorectal cancer should be performed extension tests for better treatment.

Magnetic Resonance, Thoracoabdominal CT and Echoendoscopy, which provide the urologist with information on the stage of the injury, are included in the extension analyzes.

It is also necessary to differentiate colon cancer from rectal cancer, since in cancer of the rectum, once the stage of the disease has been assessed, in those cases where there seems to be involvement of the lymph nodes, Neoadjuvant therapy with chemotherapy and Radiotherapy would be indicated. to face the surgery with better results of survival and long-term healing.

Special mention should also be made of malignant polyps that have been diagnosed by colonoscopy and have been biopsied or removed, since sometimes the only removal of the polyp by colonoscopy is already the necessary treatment, only the Digestive specialist will indicate if a Surgery is required More complete.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dr. Ramón Díaz Conradi

Dr. Diaz Conradi has made since 1990 over 3,200 interventions in Laparoscopic Surgery, covering all types of digestive diseases (liver, gallbladder, bile duct, pancreas, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum), spleen, morbid obesity (bands and by-pass), adrenal surgery and emergency surgery (abdominal trauma, acute appendicitis, cholecystitis, intestinal obstruction, perforation of hollow viscera and urgent adnexal pathology). In addition, he is a frequent speaker and lecturer at the Universidad San Pablo CEU.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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