Colorectal cancer is cancer in any part of the colon and/or rectum.
In its early stages colorectal cancer often has no symptoms. However, some people may experience:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhoea, constipation, or smaller, more frequent bowel movements
- A feeling of fullness or bloating in the bowel or rectum
- A feeling that the bowel hasn't emptied completely after a bowel movement
- Blood in the stools or on the toilet paper
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained anaemia
Screening for this disease is important, and the Australian Cancer Foundation recommends that both men and women are screened for this disease regularly from age 50. However if either of the following risk factors is experienced, consultation with your doctor about earlier or more frequent screening is encouraged.
Additional risk factors include:
- Personal or family history of colorectal cancer
- History of polyps in the colon, as result of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's Disease
Surgery is the primary treatment for cancers of the colon and rectum. However, depending on the location, size and stage of your cancer, combined treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy either before or after surgery may be recommended.
Radiotherapy for Colorectal Cancer
Patients considered for radiotherapy may receive this either:
- Before surgery (called preoperative or neoadjuvant therapy) to help shrink the cancer, making it smaller and easier to remove at the time of surgery, or
- After surgery (called postoperative or adjuvant therapy) to treat any potential microscopic disease that may remain.
The radiotherapy is usually delivered on a daily basis for 5-15 minutes, over a 4-6 week course of treatment. The delivery of this treatment is routinely by External Beam Radiotherapy.
Radiotherapy treatment services for colorectal cancer are available at the following Genesis Cancer Care Western Australia centres:
- Fiona Stanley Hospital Murdoch
- Perth Radiation Oncology Wembley
- Shenton House, Joondalup
- South West Radiation Oncology Service, Bunbury