Cancers of the colon, rectum and anus require the attention of specialists. Colon and rectal cancer are similar, but anal cancer growths are a different type. One of the most important issues with these types of cancer is the stage it has reached. The staging will depend upon how the disease has progressed and if the cancer cells have spread.
Here at CRSSNY we specialize in treating cancers of the colon, rectum, and anus. Colon and rectal cancer are similar in that the type of tumors that grow in the colon and rectum are identical. However, the types of cancers in the anus are somewhat different. When dealing with cancers of the colon and rectum staging is very important, and what we mean by staging is we look at characteristics of the growth itself, of the tissues around the growth, as well as whether or not cancer cells have spread, and that's how we determine your stage.
There are four stages. Stage 1 is the best stage meaning the outcomes are the best and the survival is the best. Stage 4 unfortunately means that the disease has advanced, and depending on your stage will dictate what type of treatment you get. Now for colon cancer, for Stages 1 and 2, for the most part all you need is surgery. For Stages 3 and 4 we will often then recommend chemotherapy in addition to surgery. With rectal cancer, for Stage 1 all that is required is surgery, and for more advanced stages, like Stages 2, 3 and 4, we'll use a combination of chemotherapy and radiation for rectal cancer.
So colon and rectal cancer are treated differently. Rectal cancer we do add radiation for the more advanced stages where colon cancer all that is required is surgery and possibly chemotherapy for the advanced stages. So even though they're similar, there are major differences and that's why seeing a specialist is critical.
With regard to anal cancer, that is treated very differently in that for the most part anal cancer is treated completely with chemotherapy and radiation, and rarely is surgery needed. About 85-90% of patients will respond to chemotherapy and radiation and never require surgery. So although we deal here with three types of cancers, colon, rectal and anus, they are very different and unique and a specialist is certainly required to help assure that the outcome is as optimal as it can be.