Whether you are living with a colorectal condition that causes mild discomfort or is life-threatening, our skilled and compassionate colorectal surgeons will tailor every step of your care — including preventive screenings and surgical treatment. We work with you to create your best treatment path for the best outcome.
What is colorectal surgery?
Colorectal surgery involves both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of conditions affecting the lower digestive tract — which includes the small intestines, colon, rectum and anus — including colorectal cancer. If you’re suffering from a colorectal disease that requires surgery, our team will partner with you on treatment to help you get well and feel better.
Colorectal surgeons treat conditions including:
- Anal cancer
- Anal condyloma
- Anal fissures
- Anal fistula
- Colon cancer
- Colorectal polyps (malignant and premalignant)
- Crohn's disease
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
- Fecal incontinence
- High grade squamous anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN)
- Lynch syndrome
- Pelvic floor disorders
- Rectal cancer
- Rectal prolapse
- Ulcerative colitis
Colorectal surgery is often required when colorectal cancer is detected. This can happen at any stage of cancer, but when colorectal cancer is caught early, survival rates are as high as 90%. This is why detection and prevention are key.
A colonoscopy is a minimally invasive screening test, meaning you can usually go home within a few hours after. Colonoscopies can help detect early signs of colon cancer including colorectal polyps, which can turn into cancer if not removed. The procedure typically takes 30 to 60 minutes, and you’ll be able to return to normal activities the following day.
The American Cancer Society recommends that most people receive regular colonoscopies starting at age 45. However, your family doctor may recommend a colonoscopy sooner if you’re at higher risk of developing cancer. Genetic testing may help you determine your risk, as will sharing any family history of colorectal cancer or concerning symptoms with your doctor.
Symptoms of later stage colorectal cancer may include:
- Abdominal cramping or pain
- Blood in the stool
- Change in bowel habits
- Rectal bleeding
- Sudden weight loss
- Weakness and fatigue
While experiencing these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have colon cancer, it’s important to talk to your doctor as these may indicate a health concern.
Colon cancer risk factors
Every year, 140,000 men and women in the United States are diagnosed with colon cancer — however, the colon and rectal cancer rate in northeast and central Pennsylvania is 10% higher than the national average.
Some factors that increase your risk of colorectal cancer include:
- Age: The risk of having colorectal cancer increases with age and is more common after age 50.
- Being overweight or obese: People who have excess body fat are more likely to develop colorectal cancer, even if they have no other risk factors. Daily exercise can help you to manage your weight and lower your risk of developing further health complications.
- Diet: Eating a diet high in red and processed meats and low in fiber raises your risk for colorectal cancers.
- Family history: If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, your doctor may recommend that you begin regular screenings early.
- Physical inactivity: Living a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise five days a week may reduce your risk.
- Polyps: While polyps aren’t always cancerous, they can be precancerous. In a colonoscopy, your doctor will look for polyps and remove them to lower your cancer risk.
- Race and ethnicity: African Americans have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than any other racial or ethnic group in the U.S.
- Smoking: Smoking raises your chances of colorectal cancer.
- Other risk factors: Other risk factors that can increase the risk of colorectal cancer include inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, inherited syndromes such as Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis and Type 2 diabetes.
Our highly trained team of colorectal surgeons is experienced in advanced detection and treating all stages of colorectal diseases. We offer a range of treatment options, from simple to complex procedures, with access to leading-edge technology.
We offer the following colorectal procedures:
When creating a colostomy or ileostomy, your surgeon creates an opening in your abdomen through which one end of the large or small intestine is brought out. The colon or ileum is then able to eliminate waste through the surgically created opening in the intestine (ostomy). If your condition requires a colostomy or ileostomy, our certified ostomy nurses will give you recommendations on navigating daily life so you can get back to your favorite activities.
Whenever possible, your surgeon will do minimally invasive surgery. This means that your surgeon will make smaller incisions, which decreases infections and allows for less bleeding and shorter recovery.
Our surgeons offer many options to solve hemorrhoid symptoms. These may include:
- Lifestyle and diet changes
- Painless hemorrhoid rubber banding procedure
- Excisional hemorrhoidectomy
We will work with you to find the right solution to resolve your symptoms while limiting the impact on your life and work.
Colorectal surgery at Geisinger
From prevention to early screenings to advanced surgical techniques, Geisinger is redefining the way colon cancer and rectal cancer is treated. We offer:
- Unmatched expertise – All of our colorectal surgeons are fellowship trained and certified by the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery. This team of highly trained specialists treats many patients with lower digestive conditions each year, and is focused on delivering the most personalized, excellent care suited to each patient’s needs. This precise level of care leads to improved outcomes and fewer complications. Many of our patients are treated successfully and able to return to their everyday lives faster.
- Multidisciplinary care team – Our surgical team works closely with other specialists including gastroenterologists, medical oncologists, nutritionists, nurse navigators and genetic counselors to create a treatment plan for each patient. Those diagnosed with cancer have the opportunity to work with our experienced multidisciplinary care team, which enables you to see your care team in one location, all during the same visit.
- Safe, effective surgical care – We use minimally invasive techniques, including robotic surgery and laparoscopic surgery, whenever possible. Robotic surgery helps us remove tumors in hard-to-reach areas of the abdomen and pelvis without harming healthy tissue.
- Genetic testing and counseling programs – Special research programs, such as MyCode, are only available at Geisinger. Participating in MyCode allows you to contribute to genetic research. By participating, some may receive information about their own genetic risks. Learn about MyCode.