Donate to Colorectal Cancer Research, Patient Care and Education

Cancers of the colon and rectum are collectively called colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that there are 140,000 cases of colorectal cancer each year, with 50,000 deaths attributed to the disease. Donating to Northwestern Memorial Foundation will help to advance research at Northwestern Medicine and will provide effective treatments for patients dealing with colorectal cancer.

There are various types of colorectal cancer. Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of cancer in the colon and rectum, accounting for more than 95 percent of cases. In this type of cancer, the tumors begin to secrete cells in the lining of the internal organs. Early tumors start as small polyps and may grow into malignant tumors. Other types include gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST), lymphoma, carcinoids and sarcoma.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer may resemble the symptoms of other conditions like hemorrhoids and inflammatory bowel disease. Individuals experience symptoms differently. Some may have obvious symptoms, while others have no symptoms at all. It is critical that any symptoms be reported to your Northwestern Medicine physician. Symptoms include:

  • Change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation or narrow stools that last a few days
  • Rectal bleeding, dark stools or blood in the stool
  • The feeling of a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Cramping or gnawing stomach pain
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Weakness and fatigue

Early detection of colorectal cancer is key, especially if you are over 50 or have a family history of cancer. Your contribution Northwestern Memorial Foundation allows us to improve detection of colorectal cancer, as well as diagnosing and treating it promptly.

The exact cause of colorectal cancer is unknown, but there are a variety of risk factors that are thought to play a role in the development of the disease. People over 50 are at greater risk, with African-Americans and Eastern European Jews as the top ethnicities. Diets high in red and processed meats are thought to factor in, as well as obesity and physical inactivity. Family and personal history with colorectal cancer also increase your risk. A small number of cases are from inherited gene mutations. Physicians on Northwestern’s medical staff will be able to provide strategies to minimize risk. Everyone 50 years and older is encouraged to have regular colonoscopy screenings to catch colorectal cancer early.

Treatment plans vary from a single treatment to a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other targeted therapies. Patients with colorectal cancer will need to consult with their families and Northwestern Medicine team to determine the best treatment course for their type of cancer. Northwestern Medicine has a highly specialized team of surgical oncologists who are able to perform many minimally invasive surgeries to treat colorectal cancers.

Colorectal Cancer Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

While prevalent, colorectal cancer is generally curable if caught early enough. Your donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation will help to accelerate research at Northwestern Medicine that aims to make early detection more possible. You can be a part of truly lifesaving discoveries and treatments in the area of colorectal cancer.

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