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Colon Cancer & Rectal Cancer

Colon Cancer & Rectal Cancer


Cancer that begins in the colon is called colon cancer, and cancer that begins in the rectum is called rectal cancer. Cancer that starts in either of these organs may also be called colorectal cancer.

In the United States, colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men, after skin, prostate, and lung cancer. It is also the fourth most common cancer in women, after skin, breast, and lung cancer.

Review this section's important information about colorectal cancer diagnosis, staging, and treatment options, as well as colon cancer patient and survivor resources as you prepare for an appointment with your oncologist. After reviewing these sections, ask your cancer care team any additional questions that you may have about your individual situation. 

Just Diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer?

We understand that a new diagnosis of colorectal cancer can be distressing. The team at Virginia Oncology Associates will be with you every step of the way, from creating a treatment plan, getting a second opinion, and explaining what to expect after colorectal cancer treatment.

Also, our colorectal cancer specialists will help you, and your family, make individualized treatment decisions. During this process, you will gain the knowledge and confidence to help manage your colorectal cancer and continue with routine activities of daily life.

Colon & Rectal Cancer Diagnosis

Colorectal cancer screening is now recommended for everyone with an average risk starting at age 45 using one or more common tests. If the results of the cancer screening tests show suspicion of colon or rectal cancer, further tests will likely be required. There are several steps in the diagnosis process including:

  • Physical Exam
  • Blood Tests
  • Colonoscopy
  • Biopsy
  • Imaging Tests

Staging Colorectal Cancers

If you receive a colon or rectal cancer diagnosis you’ll be referred to an oncologist who will plan treatment based on the stage of the cancer. They will evaluate the current test results and may request some additional tests to determine the stage – or how far the cancer has spread. These tests might include

  • Blood tests
  • Colonoscopy
  • Endorectal ultrasound
  • Chest X-ray
  • CT scan

The various stages of rectal or colon cancer range from Stage 0 to Stage IV.

Colon & Rectal Cancer Treatment Options

Based on the stage and other factors of your cancer, you and your cancer care team will discuss options for your treatment. Those options can include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Biological Therapy
  • Radiation Therapy

The oncologists at Virginia Oncology Associates will help you decide on a plan that’s right for you.

Colorectal Cancer Support in Southeast Virginia

Local support groups, genetic risk testing, and financial counseling are just some of the areas the specialists at Virginia Oncology Associates can assist you with during your colorectal cancer care.

We encourage you to learn more and take advantage of our cancer support groups and disease specific organizations, including the ColonCancer Alliance.

Is Colon Cancer Hereditary?

You could be at risk of developing colorectal cancer if you have a family history of the disease.

Our cancer genetic experts at Virginia Oncology Associates are here to guide you through cancer genetic counseling. Find out if you are at risk for hereditary colon cancer syndromes, and if you should take advantage of the Genetic Risk Evaluation & Testing Program.

More Colon Cancer & Rectal Cancer Resources