Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer develops when abnormal cells form in the colon or rectum. Colorectal cancer care at Geisinger includes a range of surgical and non-surgical treatments. We tailor every step of your care to eliminate tumors and lower your risk of future cancer.

Early signs of colorectal cancer include noncancerous growths (polyps) in the lining of the colon or rectum. Without treatment, polyps may turn into cancer. You can prevent colorectal cancer by having polyps removed during an outpatient procedure.

What you should know about colorectal cancer

  • Small polyps may not cause symptoms. A screening test (colonoscopy) can help detect and remove polyps before they become cancer.
  • Some forms of colorectal cancer are passed on in families. Genetic testing can help you determine your risk.

Why choose Geisinger for your colorectal cancer care?

  • Prevention: We offer special services that may help you avoid colorectal cancer:
    • Our Lynch syndrome screening program offers comprehensive testing. Lynch syndrome is a group of inherited traits that can increase your risk for certain types of cancer, including colorectal cancer. If you have Lynch syndrome, additional testing can tell you more about your risk.
    • We offer comprehensive testing that helps you know your cancer risk even if there is no family history. Geisinger’s MyCode® Community Health Initiative makes it possible to detect the earliest signs of cancer using a simple blood sample or cheek swab. Find out more about the MyCode Health Initiative.
  • Minimally invasive surgery: If you need surgery, we use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible. Our surgeons have years of experience with robotic surgery for colorectal cancer. Robotic surgery allows us to remove polyps in hard-to-reach areas while preserving healthy tissue nearby. Our specialized skills help you maintain normal bowel function. Learn more about robotic surgery.
  • Full support: For advanced cancers, sometimes the best treatment removes a portion of your bowels. In the rare instance treatment causes you to lose bowel function, you will need to eliminate stool through a surgically created opening (ostomy) in the small intestine. Our certified ostomy nurse helps you learn how to take care of the opening and get back to your active lifestyle.

Treatment options

Our colorectal cancer specialists help you decide which treatments are right for you and explain how they can stop cancer from progressing.

  • Ablation : Our doctors use strong energy to destroy tumors, with cold gas freezing them (cryoablation) or microwave radiation heating them (radiofrequency).
  • Chemotherapy : Strong drugs destroy cancer cells, prevent them from spreading or slow their growth.
  • Cancer clinical trials : Get access to potentially life-saving treatments by participating in a national clinical research study.
  • Polypectomy : We remove polyps before they turn into cancer. A polypectomy often happens during a colonoscopy.
  • Radiation therapy : This treatment uses radiation (X-ray) beams to destroy cancer cells.
  • 3-D conformal radiation therapy (3-D CRT) : We use special technology to position radiation beams so they precisely match irregularly shaped tumors. 
  • Brachytherapy : We deliver high doses of radiation therapy with the help of tiny beads we inject into the tumor.
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery : Special technology sends radiation beams directly to the tumor while sparing healthy tissue.
  • Surgery : Pediatric surgeons remove tumors without harming nearby organs or tissues.
  • Targeted therapy : We deliver high doses of radiation therapy with the help of tiny beads we inject into the tumor.

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