Colon cancer: Physicians explain the facts (w/VIDEO)

March 25, 2014 | by Valerie Zapanta

The exact causes of colorectal cancer are not completely understood, but many facts about the disease are well-known – as are ways to reduce one's risk. In our "Ask the Experts: Colon Health" presentation (above), City of Hope physicians provide those facts.

The video, recorded live, features colorectal cancer experts Donald David, M.D., chief of gastroenterology; Stephen M. Sentovich, M.D., M.B.A., clinical professor of surgery; and Marwan Fakih, M.D., co-director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Program. They share their knowledge about colon cancer, including the importance of screenings, the risk factors for colon cancer, and details on colon cancer treatments.

Some highlights from the presentation:

  • —Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.
  • Colorectal cancer usually starts as a polyp and progresses over a period of years to cancer.
  • Having a colonoscopy is the single most important factor in reducing the risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Colonoscopy and removal of the polyp can be done in the same day; removal of a tumor with a “hemorrhoid type” operation can be done the same day or it might require an overnight stay.
  • Robotic laparoscopic surgery with small incisions requires a two to five day stay.
  • Colorectal surgery myths include the belief that colon surgery always involves a colostomy and that surgery can make the tumor spread. (Neither are true.)
Colorectal cancer risk factors:


Studies have shown that certain factors are linked to an increased chance of developing this disease, including:

  • Age: Although the disease can occur at any age, most people who develop colorectal cancer are over age 50.
  • Polyps: Polyps are abnormal growths that protrude from the inner wall of the colon or rectum and are relatively common in people over age 50.
  • Personal history
  • Family history
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Smoking
Screening recommendation: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50 and continuing until age 75.


To schedule your next colonoscopy screening, call City of Hope at 800-826-HOPE (4673).


Learn more about colorectal cancer.


Sign up for our next Ask the Experts program, "Cancer Urban Legends: Fact or Fiction," on April 23.  Hear from City of Hope physicians and researchers, who will debunk myths, help you understand why things are true or not true, and give you the real cancer facts. Do cellphones cause brain cancer? Does deodorant cause cancer? Find out on April 23.

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