Our cancer team is here for you in-person, by phone and virtually for all your cancer care needs.
Colon cancer is a disease caused by cancerous cells that grow in the tissues and muscles of the colon. The colon is the first part of the large intestine. It helps convert digested food into waste that leaves the body as stool.
Colon cancer (also called large bowel cancer) is the fourth most common cancer in the U.S., diagnosed in nearly 100,000 people each year . Henry Ford cancer specialists have extensive experience diagnosing and treating colon cancer.
Why should I choose Henry Ford for colon cancer care?
People from across Michigan choose our program for our comprehensive colon cancer care:
- Screening options for early detection: When colon cancer is caught early, it’s highly treatable. Our Open Access Colonoscopy program lets you schedule a colonoscopy without a prior appointment. We also offer alternative colorectal cancer screening tests.
- Advanced colon cancer treatment: We perform complex colon cancer surgery, including robot-assisted and minimally invasive procedures. Ours is also one of the most experienced programs in the country providing stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) for colon cancer that spreads. This noninvasive radiation therapy precisely targets tumors and spares healthy tissue.
- Access to innovative clinical trials: We offer access to clinical trials that test new therapies not yet widely available. Our team is the first in the country to perform a clinical trial procedure designed to help patients undergoing gastrointestinal resection from colorectal cancer treatment. The procedure uses an intraluminal device that is temporarily inserted into the gastrointestinal tract to reduce the need for an ostomy bag, eliminating additional surgery and recovery for the patient. Henry Ford is the only site in Michigan, and one of a select few throughout the country, currently enrolling colorectal cancer patients in this clinical trial.
- Education and support: We’re there for you before, during and after colon cancer treatment. We prepare you for what to expect from colorectal cancer care. We also connect you with others who understand what you’re going through. Learn more about our colorectal cancer support services.
Colon cancer symptoms
People with colon cancer may have symptoms similar to those of other gastrointestinal disorders such as hemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If you experience potential colon cancer symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a colon cancer specialist.
Potential colon cancer signs include:
- Bowel obstruction
- Cramping or pain in the abdomen
- Diarrhea, constipation or narrow stool
- Persistent pressure or feeling the need to have a bowel movement
- Rectal bleeding, dark stool or blood in the stool
- Unintended weight loss
- Weakness and fatigue
Colon cancer causes and risk factors
Doctors do not yet know what causes most colon cancers. But certain factors can increase your risk for developing colon cancer. Some you can change (such as lifestyle choices) and some you can’t (such as inherited genetics).
Colon cancer risk factors include:
- Age: More than 90 percent of people with colon cancer are older than 40, though colon cancer can affect people of any age. Colon cancer diagnosed at a young age may have a genetic link, so we may recommend genetic counseling.
- Family history: As many as one in five people diagnosed with colon cancer have other family members who also had the disease. In some cases, an inherited genetic syndrome runs in these families, with Henry Ford’s Cancer Genetics Program able to provide counseling and testing. Inherited syndromes that raise colon cancer risk include:
- Familial adenomatous polyposis
- Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
- Lynch syndrome, or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer syndrome (HNPCC)
- Colon polyps: These abnormal growths may develop into colon cancer.
- Lifestyle choices: Obesity, smoking, heavy alcohol use and eating a diet high in red meat have been linked to colon cancer.
- Ulcerative colitis: This inflammatory bowel disease can cause colon cancer over time. Learn more about ulcerative colitis.
Colon cancer treatment
We provide tailored colon cancer treatment, with safe therapies to effectively treat the disease, minimize side effects and avoid damage to healthy tissue.
Colon cancer treatment typically involves surgery, with most of our procedures avoiding the need for a permanent ostomy. More advanced cancers may also need chemotherapy, or targeted radiation therapy for cancers that have spread. Learn more about our colorectal cancer treatment.
Learn more about our colorectal cancer treatment.