Colorectal cancer begins in the large intestine, colon, or rectum, and is most common in older adults. In 2018, there were 1.8 million colorectal cancer diagnosis worldwide according to the World Cancer Research Fund. Growths, called polyps, begin in the inner lining of these areas and can change into cancer over time. There are three types of polyps, all of which have different risks for developing cancer. The three types are adenomatous polyps, hyperplastic polyps and inflammatory polyps, and sessile serrated polyps (SSP) and traditional serrated adenomas (TSA). SSP and TSA’s have a high risk of colorectal cancer, while the other two types have less risk.
It is recommended that people get screened for colorectal cancer according to the recommendations for their risk and age to be sure that the cancer is diagnosed early and treatment can begin if necessary. Polyps can be found in screening so that further testing can be done for diagnosis. The American Cancer Society recommends people with an average risk get screened at age 45, and regular screening should continue through age 75. For those aged 76-85, the decision to get screening can vary person to person depending on personal health. Those whom are 85 years or older no longer need screening.
When a patient is diagnosed with colorectal cancer, there are a variety of treatments to choose from. Types of treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy and more. Colorectal clinical trials can be a good option for patients looking for unique and nonconventional treatments that use new drugs or combinations of drugs involved in these treatments. By participating in a clinical trial, a patient chooses to not only treat their own cancer, but they also help advance cancer research for future patients that are diagnosed with this cancer.