During colorectal cancer awareness month in March we sat down with our expert, board-certified gastroenterologist Steedman Sarbah, MD of Knoxville Digestive Disease Consultants, to get more information about this disease.

Steedman Sarbah, MD
Steedman Sarbah, MD

What is colorectal cancer? 

Colorectal cancer, also called colon cancer, is cancer in the colon or rectum. 

How is colorectal cancer diagnosed? 

Colorectal cancer is most often diagnosed through screening exams, such as a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy. The role of these screenings is to find cancers or polyps as early as possible. The earlier the cancer is found, the more likely you will survive. 

What are the signs of colorectal cancer? 

The most common signs of colorectal cancer include constipation, bleeding, or changes in the nature of your stool. Symptoms of colon cancer do not typically appear until the cancer is advanced, which is why regular screening is necessary. 

When should people be screened for colorectal cancer? 

It is recommended that anyone over the age of 50 should be screened for colorectal cancer. Patients with a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps should begin getting screened at age 40. 

What are the treatment options for colorectal cancer? 

Colorectal cancers can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, depending on the size and stage at the time of diagnosis. Very small or early stage cancers can be cured during a colonoscopy by removing the polyp. Cancers involving the wall of the colon often require surgery. Cancers that invade the wall of the colon and spread into the lymph nodes will require surgery and chemotherapy. Cancers which have spread to other organs in the body, such as the liver, may not be curable, but they can be controlled to stop progression via palliative care.

Is there anything I can do to prevent colorectal cancer? 

Healthy living habits can reduce your risk for developing colorectal cancer. These include: 

  • Regular screening exams
  • Not smoking
  • Limiting consumption of red meat and processed foods
  • Eating an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables
  • Watching your weight
  • Exercising regularly 

Learn more

For more information about colorectal cancer click here

To learn more about Steedman Sarbah, MD or Knoxville Digestive Disease Consultants call (865) 373-7975