Are all colon and rectum tumors cancerous?

What is the CEA test?

Research is under way to discover specific antigens, or biological markers, that might indicate the presence of colorectal cancer. One of these antigens, carcinoembroyonic antigen or CEA, may be found in greater amounts in the blood of patients with colorectal cancer. It has been suggested that this marker may be useful in showing at an early stage whether the cancer has recurred in some patients who had been treated for colorectal cancer previously. However, this test cannot be used alone in diagnosing colorectal cancer.

What are some of the symptoms of a tumor in the rectum or colon? 

Rectal bleeding, red blood in the stool, jet black stools, a change in bowel habits or the size of the stool, alternating constipation and diarrhea, crampy abdominal pains, weakness, loss of weight, and loss of appetite. Sometimes you will see a streak of blood in the stool only once. It is important that any sign be checked by a doctor.

If tumors are found, must they always be removed? 

Yes. Most doctors agree that even benign tumors (adenomas or polyps) should be removed, because they may eventually develop into cancer.

How serious is the surgery for tumors of the colon and rectum? 

The operation varies depending on the location, kind, and size of the tumor. Polyps near the rectum can often be removed through the rectum without anesthesia in a surgeon's office, on an outpatient basis in a hospital, or during an overnight hospital stay. For any benign tumor, the procedure is simple removal of the tumor at its base. If the tumor is cancerous, the tumor as well as a generous portion of the colon above and below is removed.

What preparations are necessary before surgery of the colon? 

Usually the patient is required to enter the hospital several days before surgery. Medication with antibiotic drugs and low residue or liquid diets will be prescribed. Blood transfusions may be necessary if you are anemic, as well as vitamin, mineral, and glucose feedings by vein. If there is an obstruction, an attempt may be made to overcome it by passing a tube into the small intestine.

What kind of anesthesia is used? 

General anesthesia is usually preferred. Spinal is sometimes used.

What kind of operation is necessary for cancerous growths in the colon or rectum? 

Again, this depends on the kind, size, and location of the tumor. In all cases, the surgeon removes the tumor. If enough normal colon remains, he will rejoin the healthy pieces so that the patient can function in a normal manner. This happens in about 80 percent of all cases. When this is not possible, then an artificial opening, called a stoma, is made on the abdominal wall. Only about 20 percent of patients have a permanent opening (stoma) as a result of cancer.

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