Colorectal cancer affects the colon and rectum — organs within your digestive system. It’s normal to feel scared about treatment and worried about what lies ahead. But the good news? At Cleveland Clinic, healing is possible. Our industry-leading colorectal program cares for people who have or are at risk for this type of cancer. You’ll receive personalized treatments from a team of experts who care about you.
Our cancer program is nationally ranked for its expertise and care. We provide sophisticated tests and colorectal cancer treatments that help people, like you, get back to leading long and healthy lives.
Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Colorectal Cancer Care?
Our team includes surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists who specialize in colorectal cancer. They work alongside gastrointestinal cancer specialists to coordinate every step of your care. We use evidence-based care methods and lead research exploring new treatment options. Meet our team.
Our program has earned accreditation from the Commission on Cancer National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer (NAPRC). This award recognizes our commitment to the highest rectal cancer care standards. Our treatment methods help people become tumor-free and keep their rectum and colon working the way they should.
We offer innovative chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments that help some rectal cancer patients avoid surgery. Cleveland Clinic is among a select number of programs nationwide offering these options, and we have excellent success rates.
Minimally invasive options:
We do many procedures using techniques like robotic surgery that are gentler on your body. You might even feel well enough to go home within a few days of your procedure. Cleveland Clinic also has unparalleled experience with liver transplants for colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver.
Don’t want to leave home? You may be able to receive second opinions and follow-up care from the comfort of your home with virtual visits.
Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic
Most people don’t have any symptoms or signs of colorectal cancer. If you do have symptoms, they can be confusing. Constipation, diarrhea, bloody poop, unexplained anemia, bloating and abdominal pain, and unexplained weight loss. You might not think twice about them as you’re going through your daily life. Those things happen sometimes. But this group of symptoms can be worth getting checked by a provider.
Because many people don’t experience symptoms, it’s important to have regular screening tests to check for problems early on. The best screening test is a colonoscopy. This test checks for symptoms like bleeding and looks for polyps (abnormal growths) and other possible signs of cancer.
If your provider finds an abnormal polyp during a routine colonoscopy, they’ll remove it and send it to a lab to see if it’s cancer (biopsy). Other tests your provider might do to diagnose colorectal cancer include:
- Blood tests.
- CT scan.
- MRI scan.
- PET scan.
- Diagnostic colonoscopy.
Finding out you have colorectal cancer can be scary and overwhelming. It’s important to feel confident that you’re working with a team of healthcare providers you trust completely. That’s why we encourage second opinions.
Our expert cancer specialists will take the time to help you better understand what’s going on and explain what your treatment options are. We also know that cancer doesn’t wait, so we try to get your appointment with us scheduled as soon as possible. A second opinion can give you peace of mind knowing that you’re in the most capable and compassionate hands.
Hereditary Colorectal Cancer Care at Cleveland Clinic
We were among the first programs in the nation to screen for inherited (passed from parent to child) colorectal cancer (called hereditary colorectal neoplasia). This type of cancer happens earlier in life and is more likely to come back after treatment. Our team includes geneticists who specialize in inherited cancers so you can count on us for accurate diagnoses.
If genetic testing shows you have a higher risk of hereditary colorectal cancer, we’ll keep a close eye on you. This makes it possible to find cell changes in earlier stages when treatment is more likely to succeed. Our expertise includes specialized hereditary colorectal cancer therapies that lower the chances of the cancer coming back again.
Providers Who Treat Colorectal Cancer
LocationsOur specialists see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio and Florida.
Colorectal Cancer Treatment at Cleveland Clinic
If you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, your care team will create a personalized treatment plan just for you. Then, they’ll schedule an appointment to talk with you about that plan. You’ll discuss therapy options, treatment goals, timelines and possible side effects. We encourage you to bring a friend or loved one to all your appointments. This “point person” can take notes, ask questions, keep track of instructions and important information, and help explain to your family and friends what’s happening.
Depending on the cancer’s stage (how advanced it is), your treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
If you need surgery, you’re in the hands of some of the nation’s most capable surgeons. As colorectal cancer experts, we use the techniques that best fit your needs. Our reputation for high-quality care helps us treat the most complex cases, including cancers in hard-to-reach areas.
Colorectal cancer is highly treatable with minimally invasive surgery. This includes robotic and laparoscopic methods that use tiny cuts (incisions) to remove tumors around delicate areas, like your small intestine. As much as possible, our surgeons try to remove your cancer without damaging other tissues. We do this to help you keep control of when you need to poop.
Chemotherapy and medical oncology
These treatments use medications (chemotherapy) and other substances to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy after surgery can reduce the risk of cancer coming back by as much as half. Targeted therapies that attack changes in genes that cause cancer cells to grow are another option.
We also offer immunotherapy for certain cancers, which trains the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. If you qualify, you’ll also have access to innovative options, some of which are only available through clinical trials.
We offer options, like stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), that aren’t widely available. SBRT is a newer technique that delivers high doses of radiation to specific areas.
Colorectal cancer treatment may also include intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). We use this technique to treat areas that are difficult to reach using surgery. IMRT delivers radiation to cancer cells while avoiding nearby organs, like your bladder.
Ongoing Colorectal Cancer Care at Cleveland Clinic
Our team stays with you long after you complete colorectal cancer treatment. We’ll check on you often to help you feel your best and watch for signs of new cancer.
Ongoing care may also include learning about preventing new cancers through shared medical appointments. In a shared medical appointment, you’ll have longer virtual visits with a lifestyle medicine provider and other colorectal cancer survivors. Each session focuses on a different wellness topic and gives you the opportunity to ask questions, and share concerns and experiences.
Taking the Next Step
Colorectal cancer is serious, but it’s also highly treatable if caught early. No matter what stage your cancer is, our highly skilled team of specialists is here for you. You can trust us to be your expert and compassionate partner on your journey with colorectal cancer — from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.
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Learning you have cancer can be stressful, shocking and challenging. From the moment you get the news, you're a survivor. As you face the challenges that go along with cancer treatment and recovery — physical and emotional — we’ll be right there with you.
At Cleveland Clinic, survivorship care is one part of your journey. We offer a wide range of services, resources, clinics and support groups to help with any physical, emotional, financial and spiritual needs you might have related to your cancer diagnosis. Lending a helping hand along the way, we want you to not only survive, but thrive on this journey and beyond.