A National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Make an appointment: 800-826-HOPE
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Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States. However, advances in detection and treatment have dramatically improved outcomes, particularly in the earlier stages of the disease.
 
City of Hope has one of the most experienced colorectal cancer programs in the United States, with a multidisciplinary team that takes an integrated approach to detecting and treating cancers of the colon and rectum. This includes using advanced technologies and specialized techniques such as:
 
  • a comprehensive range of colorectal cancer detection services, including colonoscopy (which can also remove pre-cancerous polyps and some early stage tumors) and stool DNA testing
  • minimally-invasive, robotically-assisted techniques for complex surgeries that can remove tumors with less discomfort, reduced risk of complications and shorter recovery times
  • an experienced surgical team that can treat colorectal cancers with minimal impact to quality of life (e.g. reducing the likelihood of permanent colostomy following surgery)
  • highly precise radiation therapy that can target hard-to-resect tumors with minimal exposure to surrounding normal tissue
  • targeted drugs and drug combinations that can treat advanced colorectal cancers with greater effectiveness and fewer side effects, compared to traditional chemotherapy
  • combination regimens integrating surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy for maximum cancer-fighting effectiveness
 
Additionally, City of Hope patients have access to our extensive team of supportive care experts — including dieticians, supportive medicine physicians and rehabilitation specialists. Working closely with the patient’s primary care team, they can detect and address quality of life issues related to colorectal cancer and its treatments. This includes managing symptoms (such as pain, nausea and fatigue), adjusting to a new diet and lifestyle post-treatment (particularly if a large portion of the colon is treated) and being aware of possible long-term effects.
 
 
As one of a handful of institutes to attain the elite designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is acknowledged as a leader in colorectal cancer research and treatment. With our decades of experience, specialized therapy protocols and extensive program of clinical trials, newly diagnosed or relapsed patients can find a treatment regimen that is tailored to their needs and gives them the best chance for survival. U.S. News & World Report also named City of Hope as one of the top cancer hospitals in the country.
 
 
In collaboration with other departments and cancer centers, City of Hope’s colorectal cancer program has an active portfolio of clinical trials studying novel treatments, including trials of new surgery, radiation and drug therapy regimens that are more effective against the disease and/or less harmful to the patient. Many of these promising therapies are only available to patients being treated at the City of Hope.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.
 

Colorectal Cancer Team

About Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the colon and rectum, digestive organs whose primary functions are to absorb water and nutrients from consumed food and beverages, as well as store digestive waste until it is expelled through the anus.
 
More than 95% of colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas, which originate from the mucus-producing gland cells that line the interior of the colon and rectum. Other rare types of colorectal cancers include carcinoid tumors, gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), lymphomas and sarcomas.
 
Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
 
Symptoms of colorectal cancers include:
 
  • Change in bowel habits that last more than a few days
  • Stools that are bloody, dark or narrower than usual
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Feeling discomfort, pain or fullness in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue and weakness
 
While many of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions, early colorectal cancer detection is crucial to successful treatment. If you or a loved one experiences any of the above symptoms, please contact a doctor for further evaluation.
 
Risk Factors of Colorectal Cancer
 
Risk factors associated with colorectal cancer include:
 
  • Age: Approximately 90% of colorectal cancer diagnoses are among people ages 50 and older
  • Diet: A diet high in red or processed meats have been shown to increase colorectal risk, while a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains is linked with a lower risk
  • Diseases and Conditions:
    • Colorectal Polyps: polyps are growths found on the inside of the colon; most polyps are benign (non-cancerous) but they can indicate pre-cancerous cellular changes that lead to colorectal cancer
    • Diabetes: People with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer
    • Genetic Conditions: inherited gene mutations that are passed from parents to children may account for as many as 10 percent of colorectal cancer cases. These include familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC or Lynch syndrome), Turcot syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome and MUTYH-associated polyposis
    • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: also known as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, this condition is characterized by long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, which can cause cellular changes that lead to colorectal cancer
  • Ethnicity: In the United States, African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews have the highest risk of colorectal cancer
  • Family History: In addition to genetic conditions that can elevate colorectal cancer risk, a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps can also raise an individual’s likelihood of developing this disease
  • Heavy Alcohol Use: Excessive alcohol consumption (more than 2 drinks a day for men or 1 drink a day for women) has been linked to higher likelihood of developing colorectal cancer
  • Obesity: Obese people are more likely to develop colorectal cancer
  • Physical Activity: Regular physical activity has been linked with a lower likelihood of developing colorectal cancer
  • Tobacco Use: Compared to non-smokers, smokers are more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer
 
If you suspect that you or a loved one may have an elevated risk of colorectal cancer, please consult with a doctor on preventive and early detection measures that are available.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

How We Screen and Diagnose Colorectal Cancer

Diagnosing Colorectal Cancer
 
A timely and accurate detection of colorectal cancer is essential to planning the best course of treatment. In addition to a routine physical examination and blood tests, City of Hope doctors may also use the following tests to diagnose colorectal cancer:

  • Colonoscopy: Using a flexible, thin lit tube, a physician will examine the rectum and entire colon for cancerous changes. In addition to detecting colorectal cancer, colonoscopy also allows the doctor to extract and remove suspicious and precancerous tissues, such as polyps.
  • Sigmoidoscopy: A test similar to colonoscopy, this procedure uses a shorter tube to examine only the rectum and lower colon for cancerous changes.
  • Stool DNA Testing: A newly-approved procedure that tests stool samples for abnormal DNA associated with colorectal cancer.
  • Barium Enema: Also called a lower GI series, a silver-white metallic compound in inserted through the rectum. This compound coats the interior of the colon and rectum, allowing for better visualization of abnormalities when X-rays are taken.
  • Virtual Colonoscopy: Also called colonography, this procedure using a series of X-rays (computed tomography) to create a detailed image of the colon and rectum.
  • Biopsy: Abnormal-looking cells are extracted and checked by a pathologist for cancerous signs.
  • Genetic Testing: A genetic test of the cells extracted during biopsy can show whether the cancer is sensitive or resistant to specific treatments, so your care team can plan the most effective regimen against the disease.
 
Other tests that may be used for diagnosis or further evaluation include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound scans.
 
For early detection of colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society currently recommends, beginning at age 50, either:
 
  1. colonoscopy every 10 years
  2. sigmoidoscopy, virtual colonoscopy or barium enema every 5 years
  3. stool DNA test every 3 years
 
These guidelines are for people with average colorectal cancer risk. Those with elevated risk should consider starting screening at a younger age and be screened more frequently.
 
Staging Colorectal Cancer
 
To properly plan for treatment, colorectal cancer patients are staged in accordance to how advanced the disease is. This is primarily done by taking a number of factors into consideration, including:
 
  • Size of the tumor
  • If the tumor has grown into a blood vessel or adjacent organs, such as the stomach or small intestine
  • Whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and how many lymph nodes are affected
  • Whether the cancer has metastasized to distant organs
  • If the cancer can be completely removed by surgery
  • The cancer cells’ appearance (how abnormal they look) when examined under a microscope
 
Based on these factors, patients are staged according to their risk level, with higher risk patients typically requiring more intensive treatments.
 
More information on colorectal cancer staging criteria is available on the National Cancer Institute’s website.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.
 

Our Treatment Approach to Colorectal Cancer

City of Hope has one of the most renowned colorectal cancer programs in the United States, with a multidisciplinary team of medical experts across different fields including surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology and supportive care medicine. Together, they work collaboratively to plan and implement a treatment regimen that is individually tailored to the patient to improve survival chances, enhance outcomes and boost quality of life.

Surgery

Surgery is often the primary treatment for colorectal cancer, and it can be curative for early stage patients and can also improve survival outcomes and reduce discomfort for later stage patients.
 
City of Hope’s surgeons specialize in minimally invasive and robotically-assisted surgical procedures for colorectal cancer. By using smaller incisions compared to an open procedure, patients experience less pain, recover faster, have shorter hospital stays and are less likely to have post-surgical complications.
 
The expertise of City of Hope’s surgeons also means that they can treat colorectal cancers that are considered inoperable elsewhere. This is done through advanced procedures that can navigate around sensitive areas (such as major blood vessels) and working with radiation and medical oncologists, who may be able to shrink the tumor to down to an operable size and shape with radiation and drug therapies.
 
Additionally, our surgeons also consider quality of life outcomes when planning their course of treatment, so that surgical side effects, such as the need for permanent colostomy, are rare.
 
Surgery may also be performed to alleviate symptoms associated with colorectal cancer, such as a tumor obstructing digestive flow.
 

Radiation Therapy

Radiation can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies to treat colorectal cancer by killing cancer cells or preventing the tumor growing larger. It can be applied externally using one or more radioactive beams focused on the tumor or internally by placing small radioactive pellets into or next to the tumor (brachytherapy).
 
Radiation therapy can also improve quality of life by relieving pain and stopping bleeds.
 
In addition to standard radiation regimens, City of Hope also offers Helical TomoTherapy, an advance technology combining radiation delivery with advanced imaging. This allows the radiation beams to be “sculpted” to the tumor’s size and shape, resulting in more focused radiation on the cancer site while minimizing exposure to adjacent tissues and organs.
 

Drug Therapy

City of Hope uses a wide range of chemotherapy and targeted therapy drugs to treat localized and metastatic colorectal cancer. In addition to standard drug regimens, patients have access to newly developed drugs (or drug combinations) through our clinical trials program.
 
Cancer fighting drugs can also enhance the effectiveness of surgery or radiation therapy, by shrinking the tumor before the procedure and making it easier to remove (neoadjuvant therapy), or given after the procedure to minimize the chance of recurrence (adjuvant therapy.)
 
Chemotherapy may also be given alongside radiation therapy to enhance the cancer-fighting effectiveness of both (chemoradiation.)
 
As part of the treatment team, a medical oncologist will evaluate the patient’s cancer, health and other factors, so that the chemotherapy, if appropriate, can be tailored to the patient throughout the continuum of care.
 

Become a Patient

If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

City of Hope Colorectal Cancer Research and Clinical Trials

There is extensive collaboration between City of Hope clinicians and researchers to develop and evaluate new colorectal cancer therapies designed to improve survival and quality of life outcomes. City of Hope patients have access to a wide variety of clinical trials ranging from new chemotherapy and targeted therapies, novel surgical techniques and new radiation approaches — all focused on enhancing  treatment, detection and prevention of colorectal cancer.
 
Some of our current research projects:
 
  • City of Hope is part of a trial testing the drugs sulindac (Clinoril®) or eflornithine (Ornidyl®) (or the combination of the two) and its impact on colorectal cancer recurrence. In previous studies, the two drug combination has been shown to significantly reduce polyp development, but this hasn’t been compared to the effectiveness of either drug alone. The results of this trial will help determine which drug regimen will be ideal for the chemoprevention of colorectal cancer, and to lead to a better understanding of how these drugs work alone and together against colorectal cancer.
  • At City of Hope, patients with metastatic colorectal cancer have the opportunity to enroll in the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) Patient Registry and Biospecimen Profiling Repository, in which their cancer tissues can be molecularly profiled for genetic abnormalities and other biomarkers. This helps researchers better understand the mechanisms of the cancer, and enrolled patients may be able to participate in appropriate NSABP studies for novel treatments (such as drugs that are only effective against cancer cells with a specific gene mutation.)
  • Several cancers, including colorectal cancer, are linked to a mutation of the BRAF gene, which drives uncontrolled cell growth by producing an abnormal version of the BRAF protein. City of Hope is currently testing an investigational new drug, CEP-32496, that may be able to block this protein. If successful, this can add a new drug to treat BRAF-linked colorectal cancer, as well as melanoma, thyroid, ovarian and lung cancers.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

Living with Colorectal Cancer

While our primary goal is to cure or control the disease, another top priority is relieving suffering and discomfort for colorectal cancer patients undergoing cancer treatments.
 
In addition to curative treatments, City of Hope colorectal cancer patients and their caregivers have access to the broad range of services offered by our Department of Supportive Care Medicine. The department’s staff of professionals, including registered dieticians, rehabilitation specialists, supportive medicine physicians and clinical social workers, can help patients and loved ones with a variety of care and wellness issues including:
 
 
The Department of Supportive Care Medicine is based in City of Hope’s Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, which integrates all support services in a central location. The Biller Resource Center provides a warm and welcoming space where patients, families and caregivers can access the resources, education and support they need to strengthen and empower themselves, before, during and after treatment.
 
For more information or to contact the Biller Resource Center staff, please call 626-256-4673, ext. 32273 (3CARE).
 
 
This site includes tips, tools and online resources to help cancer patients and their families with issues that arise during cancer treatment.
 
Additional Resources
 
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

Support this program

It takes the help of a lot of caring people to make hope a reality for our patients. City of Hope was founded by individuals' philanthropic efforts 100 years ago. Their efforts − and those of our supporters today − have built the foundation for the care we provide and the research we conduct. It enables us to strive for new breakthroughs and better therapies − helping more people enjoy longer, better lives.

For more information on supporting this specific program, please contact us below.

Joe Komsky
Senior Development Officer
Phone: 626-218-6291
Email: jkomsky@coh.org

 
 

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States. However, advances in detection and treatment have dramatically improved outcomes, particularly in the earlier stages of the disease.
 
City of Hope has one of the most experienced colorectal cancer programs in the United States, with a multidisciplinary team that takes an integrated approach to detecting and treating cancers of the colon and rectum. This includes using advanced technologies and specialized techniques such as:
 
  • a comprehensive range of colorectal cancer detection services, including colonoscopy (which can also remove pre-cancerous polyps and some early stage tumors) and stool DNA testing
  • minimally-invasive, robotically-assisted techniques for complex surgeries that can remove tumors with less discomfort, reduced risk of complications and shorter recovery times
  • an experienced surgical team that can treat colorectal cancers with minimal impact to quality of life (e.g. reducing the likelihood of permanent colostomy following surgery)
  • highly precise radiation therapy that can target hard-to-resect tumors with minimal exposure to surrounding normal tissue
  • targeted drugs and drug combinations that can treat advanced colorectal cancers with greater effectiveness and fewer side effects, compared to traditional chemotherapy
  • combination regimens integrating surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy for maximum cancer-fighting effectiveness
 
Additionally, City of Hope patients have access to our extensive team of supportive care experts — including dieticians, supportive medicine physicians and rehabilitation specialists. Working closely with the patient’s primary care team, they can detect and address quality of life issues related to colorectal cancer and its treatments. This includes managing symptoms (such as pain, nausea and fatigue), adjusting to a new diet and lifestyle post-treatment (particularly if a large portion of the colon is treated) and being aware of possible long-term effects.
 
 
As one of a handful of institutes to attain the elite designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is acknowledged as a leader in colorectal cancer research and treatment. With our decades of experience, specialized therapy protocols and extensive program of clinical trials, newly diagnosed or relapsed patients can find a treatment regimen that is tailored to their needs and gives them the best chance for survival. U.S. News & World Report also named City of Hope as one of the top cancer hospitals in the country.
 
 
In collaboration with other departments and cancer centers, City of Hope’s colorectal cancer program has an active portfolio of clinical trials studying novel treatments, including trials of new surgery, radiation and drug therapy regimens that are more effective against the disease and/or less harmful to the patient. Many of these promising therapies are only available to patients being treated at the City of Hope.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.
 

Colorectal Cancer Team

Colorectal Cancer Team

About Colorectal Cancer

About Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the colon and rectum, digestive organs whose primary functions are to absorb water and nutrients from consumed food and beverages, as well as store digestive waste until it is expelled through the anus.
 
More than 95% of colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas, which originate from the mucus-producing gland cells that line the interior of the colon and rectum. Other rare types of colorectal cancers include carcinoid tumors, gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), lymphomas and sarcomas.
 
Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
 
Symptoms of colorectal cancers include:
 
  • Change in bowel habits that last more than a few days
  • Stools that are bloody, dark or narrower than usual
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Feeling discomfort, pain or fullness in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue and weakness
 
While many of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions, early colorectal cancer detection is crucial to successful treatment. If you or a loved one experiences any of the above symptoms, please contact a doctor for further evaluation.
 
Risk Factors of Colorectal Cancer
 
Risk factors associated with colorectal cancer include:
 
  • Age: Approximately 90% of colorectal cancer diagnoses are among people ages 50 and older
  • Diet: A diet high in red or processed meats have been shown to increase colorectal risk, while a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains is linked with a lower risk
  • Diseases and Conditions:
    • Colorectal Polyps: polyps are growths found on the inside of the colon; most polyps are benign (non-cancerous) but they can indicate pre-cancerous cellular changes that lead to colorectal cancer
    • Diabetes: People with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer
    • Genetic Conditions: inherited gene mutations that are passed from parents to children may account for as many as 10 percent of colorectal cancer cases. These include familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC or Lynch syndrome), Turcot syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome and MUTYH-associated polyposis
    • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: also known as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, this condition is characterized by long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, which can cause cellular changes that lead to colorectal cancer
  • Ethnicity: In the United States, African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews have the highest risk of colorectal cancer
  • Family History: In addition to genetic conditions that can elevate colorectal cancer risk, a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps can also raise an individual’s likelihood of developing this disease
  • Heavy Alcohol Use: Excessive alcohol consumption (more than 2 drinks a day for men or 1 drink a day for women) has been linked to higher likelihood of developing colorectal cancer
  • Obesity: Obese people are more likely to develop colorectal cancer
  • Physical Activity: Regular physical activity has been linked with a lower likelihood of developing colorectal cancer
  • Tobacco Use: Compared to non-smokers, smokers are more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer
 
If you suspect that you or a loved one may have an elevated risk of colorectal cancer, please consult with a doctor on preventive and early detection measures that are available.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

How We Screen and Diagnose Colorectal Cancer

How We Screen and Diagnose Colorectal Cancer

Diagnosing Colorectal Cancer
 
A timely and accurate detection of colorectal cancer is essential to planning the best course of treatment. In addition to a routine physical examination and blood tests, City of Hope doctors may also use the following tests to diagnose colorectal cancer:

  • Colonoscopy: Using a flexible, thin lit tube, a physician will examine the rectum and entire colon for cancerous changes. In addition to detecting colorectal cancer, colonoscopy also allows the doctor to extract and remove suspicious and precancerous tissues, such as polyps.
  • Sigmoidoscopy: A test similar to colonoscopy, this procedure uses a shorter tube to examine only the rectum and lower colon for cancerous changes.
  • Stool DNA Testing: A newly-approved procedure that tests stool samples for abnormal DNA associated with colorectal cancer.
  • Barium Enema: Also called a lower GI series, a silver-white metallic compound in inserted through the rectum. This compound coats the interior of the colon and rectum, allowing for better visualization of abnormalities when X-rays are taken.
  • Virtual Colonoscopy: Also called colonography, this procedure using a series of X-rays (computed tomography) to create a detailed image of the colon and rectum.
  • Biopsy: Abnormal-looking cells are extracted and checked by a pathologist for cancerous signs.
  • Genetic Testing: A genetic test of the cells extracted during biopsy can show whether the cancer is sensitive or resistant to specific treatments, so your care team can plan the most effective regimen against the disease.
 
Other tests that may be used for diagnosis or further evaluation include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound scans.
 
For early detection of colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society currently recommends, beginning at age 50, either:
 
  1. colonoscopy every 10 years
  2. sigmoidoscopy, virtual colonoscopy or barium enema every 5 years
  3. stool DNA test every 3 years
 
These guidelines are for people with average colorectal cancer risk. Those with elevated risk should consider starting screening at a younger age and be screened more frequently.
 
Staging Colorectal Cancer
 
To properly plan for treatment, colorectal cancer patients are staged in accordance to how advanced the disease is. This is primarily done by taking a number of factors into consideration, including:
 
  • Size of the tumor
  • If the tumor has grown into a blood vessel or adjacent organs, such as the stomach or small intestine
  • Whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and how many lymph nodes are affected
  • Whether the cancer has metastasized to distant organs
  • If the cancer can be completely removed by surgery
  • The cancer cells’ appearance (how abnormal they look) when examined under a microscope
 
Based on these factors, patients are staged according to their risk level, with higher risk patients typically requiring more intensive treatments.
 
More information on colorectal cancer staging criteria is available on the National Cancer Institute’s website.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.
 

Colorectal Cancer Treatment Approaches

Our Treatment Approach to Colorectal Cancer

City of Hope has one of the most renowned colorectal cancer programs in the United States, with a multidisciplinary team of medical experts across different fields including surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology and supportive care medicine. Together, they work collaboratively to plan and implement a treatment regimen that is individually tailored to the patient to improve survival chances, enhance outcomes and boost quality of life.

Surgery

Surgery is often the primary treatment for colorectal cancer, and it can be curative for early stage patients and can also improve survival outcomes and reduce discomfort for later stage patients.
 
City of Hope’s surgeons specialize in minimally invasive and robotically-assisted surgical procedures for colorectal cancer. By using smaller incisions compared to an open procedure, patients experience less pain, recover faster, have shorter hospital stays and are less likely to have post-surgical complications.
 
The expertise of City of Hope’s surgeons also means that they can treat colorectal cancers that are considered inoperable elsewhere. This is done through advanced procedures that can navigate around sensitive areas (such as major blood vessels) and working with radiation and medical oncologists, who may be able to shrink the tumor to down to an operable size and shape with radiation and drug therapies.
 
Additionally, our surgeons also consider quality of life outcomes when planning their course of treatment, so that surgical side effects, such as the need for permanent colostomy, are rare.
 
Surgery may also be performed to alleviate symptoms associated with colorectal cancer, such as a tumor obstructing digestive flow.
 

Radiation Therapy

Radiation can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies to treat colorectal cancer by killing cancer cells or preventing the tumor growing larger. It can be applied externally using one or more radioactive beams focused on the tumor or internally by placing small radioactive pellets into or next to the tumor (brachytherapy).
 
Radiation therapy can also improve quality of life by relieving pain and stopping bleeds.
 
In addition to standard radiation regimens, City of Hope also offers Helical TomoTherapy, an advance technology combining radiation delivery with advanced imaging. This allows the radiation beams to be “sculpted” to the tumor’s size and shape, resulting in more focused radiation on the cancer site while minimizing exposure to adjacent tissues and organs.
 

Drug Therapy

City of Hope uses a wide range of chemotherapy and targeted therapy drugs to treat localized and metastatic colorectal cancer. In addition to standard drug regimens, patients have access to newly developed drugs (or drug combinations) through our clinical trials program.
 
Cancer fighting drugs can also enhance the effectiveness of surgery or radiation therapy, by shrinking the tumor before the procedure and making it easier to remove (neoadjuvant therapy), or given after the procedure to minimize the chance of recurrence (adjuvant therapy.)
 
Chemotherapy may also be given alongside radiation therapy to enhance the cancer-fighting effectiveness of both (chemoradiation.)
 
As part of the treatment team, a medical oncologist will evaluate the patient’s cancer, health and other factors, so that the chemotherapy, if appropriate, can be tailored to the patient throughout the continuum of care.
 

Become a Patient

If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

Colorectal Cancer Research/Clinical Trials

City of Hope Colorectal Cancer Research and Clinical Trials

There is extensive collaboration between City of Hope clinicians and researchers to develop and evaluate new colorectal cancer therapies designed to improve survival and quality of life outcomes. City of Hope patients have access to a wide variety of clinical trials ranging from new chemotherapy and targeted therapies, novel surgical techniques and new radiation approaches — all focused on enhancing  treatment, detection and prevention of colorectal cancer.
 
Some of our current research projects:
 
  • City of Hope is part of a trial testing the drugs sulindac (Clinoril®) or eflornithine (Ornidyl®) (or the combination of the two) and its impact on colorectal cancer recurrence. In previous studies, the two drug combination has been shown to significantly reduce polyp development, but this hasn’t been compared to the effectiveness of either drug alone. The results of this trial will help determine which drug regimen will be ideal for the chemoprevention of colorectal cancer, and to lead to a better understanding of how these drugs work alone and together against colorectal cancer.
  • At City of Hope, patients with metastatic colorectal cancer have the opportunity to enroll in the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) Patient Registry and Biospecimen Profiling Repository, in which their cancer tissues can be molecularly profiled for genetic abnormalities and other biomarkers. This helps researchers better understand the mechanisms of the cancer, and enrolled patients may be able to participate in appropriate NSABP studies for novel treatments (such as drugs that are only effective against cancer cells with a specific gene mutation.)
  • Several cancers, including colorectal cancer, are linked to a mutation of the BRAF gene, which drives uncontrolled cell growth by producing an abnormal version of the BRAF protein. City of Hope is currently testing an investigational new drug, CEP-32496, that may be able to block this protein. If successful, this can add a new drug to treat BRAF-linked colorectal cancer, as well as melanoma, thyroid, ovarian and lung cancers.
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

Living with Colorectal Cancer

Living with Colorectal Cancer

While our primary goal is to cure or control the disease, another top priority is relieving suffering and discomfort for colorectal cancer patients undergoing cancer treatments.
 
In addition to curative treatments, City of Hope colorectal cancer patients and their caregivers have access to the broad range of services offered by our Department of Supportive Care Medicine. The department’s staff of professionals, including registered dieticians, rehabilitation specialists, supportive medicine physicians and clinical social workers, can help patients and loved ones with a variety of care and wellness issues including:
 
 
The Department of Supportive Care Medicine is based in City of Hope’s Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, which integrates all support services in a central location. The Biller Resource Center provides a warm and welcoming space where patients, families and caregivers can access the resources, education and support they need to strengthen and empower themselves, before, during and after treatment.
 
For more information or to contact the Biller Resource Center staff, please call 626-256-4673, ext. 32273 (3CARE).
 
 
This site includes tips, tools and online resources to help cancer patients and their families with issues that arise during cancer treatment.
 
Additional Resources
 
 
 
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about becoming a patient by calling 800-826-HOPE or filling out the Request a New Patient Appointment Online form.

Support This Program

Support this program

It takes the help of a lot of caring people to make hope a reality for our patients. City of Hope was founded by individuals' philanthropic efforts 100 years ago. Their efforts − and those of our supporters today − have built the foundation for the care we provide and the research we conduct. It enables us to strive for new breakthroughs and better therapies − helping more people enjoy longer, better lives.

For more information on supporting this specific program, please contact us below.

Joe Komsky
Senior Development Officer
Phone: 626-218-6291
Email: jkomsky@coh.org

 
 
Quick Links
Colon Cancer Treatment and Colonoscopies
 
Watch Dr. Stephen Sentovich talk about advances in colon cancer treatment and the importance of colonoscopies.
Faces of Cancer

Meet City of Hope patients and their families.
 
 
Cancer Expertise Matters
Clinical Trials
Our aggressive pursuit to discover better ways to help patients now – not years from now – places us among the leaders worldwide in the administration of clinical trials.
 


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  • Even the most loving and secure relationship can be rattled by a life-threatening illness. When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, research shows one of the most important factors in helping her cope is having a supportive partner. But that partner can struggle with knowing what to say or how to best supp...
  • It’s been more than a century since Nobel Laureate Paul Ehrlich popularized the idea of a “magic bullet” targeting disease. Cancer researchers ever since have remained in hot pursuit of targeted therapies that home in on cancer cells while leaving normal cells unaffected. Linda Malkas, Ph.D., associate chair of...
  • Cancer patients face a daunting journey marked by challenges and uncertainties. For those undergoing bone marrow, or stem cell, transplantation, one complication poses a particular threat — chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Now, one researcher may have found a better way to control that threat. GVHD res...
  • Michele Dahlstein, a 50-year-old breast cancer survivor from Upland, California, celebrated her last day of chemotherapy on Dec. 30. She shares her story in her own words: I was diagnosed with breast cancer (invasive ductal carcinoma stage 2) on Aug. 11, 2014, after my yearly mammogram at City of Hope’s W...
  • The treatment of urologic cancers, including bladder cancer, is rapidly evolving. Here, urologic oncologic surgeon and kidney stone specialist Donald Hannoun, M.D., an assistant clinical professor in the Division of Urology and Urologic Oncology at City of Hope | Antelope Valley, explains the changes in hi...
  • A woman confronting metastatic breast cancer faces challenges that, at the outset, seem overwhelming. Research tells us these patients are especially vulnerable to anxiety, depression, hopelessness and other sources of distress. At the same time, they are asked to make complicated choices about their medical ca...
  • California health officials are opting to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to e-cigarettes. The increasingly popular devices are a public health threat, according to a California Department of Health report released Jan. 28. The department is seeking statewide regulation of e-cigarettes, saying they  emi...
  • “Not beyond us.” On World Cancer Day, researchers and caregivers around the globe are embracing this refrain. Specifically, the day calls for action to support healthier lifestyles, early cancer detection, quality of life and access to care. In a time of impressive scientific discovery and narrowing...
  • With more advanced cancer treatments and therapies saving lives every day, it’s safe to say cancer is “Not beyond us,” the official tagline for this year’s World Cancer Day. This year’s World Cancer Day observance takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 4, and focuses on cancer prevention, detection an...
  • Does our environment increase our risk of cancer? What about plastic bottles, radiation, chemicals, soy products …? Do they cause cancer? With so many cancer fears, rumors and downright urban legends circulating among our friends and colleagues, not to mention in the media and blogosphere, why not ask the...
  • With this week’s World Cancer Day challenging us to think about cancer on a global scale, we should also keep in mind that daily choices affect cancer risk on an individual scale. Simply put, lifestyle changes and everyday actions can reduce your cancer risk and perhaps prevent some cancers. According to ...
  • If you haven’t heard the term “precision medicine,” you will. If you don’t have an opinion about access to it, you will. On Friday, President Barack Obama unveiled details of the Precision Medicine Initiative, an effort intended to accelerate cancer research in a powerful way, giving doctors new knowledge and n...
  • The lack of a practical way to produce and store enough stem cells for larger-scale therapies and clinical trials is creating a bottleneck in stem cell research. A new grant to City of Hope from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) will help solve that problem. The $899,728 grant, awarded T...