Colorectal cancer remains among the top five most frequently diagnosed cancers and is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Northside Hospital continues to make progress in the development of comprehensive, interdisciplinary gastrointestinal (GI) cancer care services with the expansion of its colorectal cancer screening program.

Risk Factors 

Risk factors you cannot change

  • Age; chances increase after age 50
  • Personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
  • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease: i.e. colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • Family history of colorectal cancer in one or more first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, or children)
  • Inherited symptoms 
  • Racial and ethnic background: African Americans and Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) have a higher incidence of colorectal cancer

 Lifestyle-related risk factors

  • High-fat diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Obesity

Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Although most of these symptoms are usually caused by conditions other than colorectal cancer, if you have any of these problems, please consult your physician:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
  • Rectal bleeding, dark stools or blood in the stool
  • Feeling the need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by doing so
  • Cramping or abdominal pain
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Weakness and fatigue


Everyone should begin colorectal cancer screening by age 50 and screenings should be done every five to ten years to detect and remove any pre-cancerous polyps.  The American College of Gastroenterology recommends that African Americans begin routine screening at age 45. If you have a personal or family history of colon polyps or colorectal cancer, talk to your doctor about early screening.  If screening indicates the possibility of cancer, additional tests will be conducted.

Screening and diagnostic tests may include:


Surgery is the most common form of treatment for colorectal cancer. A doctor may remove the cancer through local excision, resection or resection and colostomy. Some patients may need radiation, a treatment using high energy X-rays or radiation, to kill cancer cells.  Chemotherapy may be given to assist in killing cancer cells. Treatment given after surgery is called adjuvant therapy.

Northside's Advanced Center for GI Therapeutics offers a variety of gastrointestinal (GI) procedures to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of GI conditions.  Whether your procedure is a routine colon cancer screening or a procedure to diagnose and treat new GI symptoms, Northside’s team of gastroenterologists (physicians specializing in GI conditions) and GI nurses are ready to collaborate with you and the heath care team to develop an individual plan of care.

Need help getting to your next appointment? Learn more about Northside Hospital's Colorectal Cancer Transportation Assistance Program.


Gastrointestinal Nurse Navigator – Colorectal cancer patients have a nurse specially trained to assist from diagnosis through treatment of colon cancer. This nurse navigator works with radiologists, pathologists, surgeons, oncologist and other specialists to coordinate a patient's treatment plan.

For more information, contact (404) 300-2800 or

Cancer Support Community – This national nonprofit organization provides support, informative education programs, a variety of gentle stress reduction and exercise classes and fun social activities for cancer patients and their families – all in a home-like environment. All classes are offered free of charge and are led by seasoned professionals committed to supporting individuals and families in our community facing cancer. 

For a complete list of classes visit or call (404) 843-1880.

Colorectal Genetics

Approximately 5-10 percent of all colorectal cancer cases are inherited. A personal or family history of colorectal cancer and endometrial cancer is an indicator of the most common form of hereditary colon cancer, Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer or HNPCC, and is responsible for 3-5 percent of all colorectal cancers.  HNPCC is associated with an 80 percent lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer, as well as an increased risk of developing other cancers such as endometrial, ovarian and gastric.  If you have a personal or family history of endometrial cancer, colorectal cancer or polyps, talk to your doctor about an evaluation and risk assessment with a genetic counselor.

Knowing that you have HNPCC can help determine you and your family’s risk for developing colorectal cancer and can assist your doctor in appropriate screening measures.  Northside Hospital’s Hereditary Cancer Program offers one of the most accurate tests available for identifying the genetic mutations that cause colorectal cancer.  

With Northside’s Hereditary Cancer Program, a certified genetic counselor will help determine the risk of cancer for you and your family.  The program offers genetic counseling sessions, pre and post-testing counseling and genetic testing. Call for more information at (404) 851-6284.

For more information call
(404) 531-4444

Copyright © 2015 Northside Hospital|Privacy Policy