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Prevention and Detection of Colorectal Disease

Diseases of the colon and rectum include colorectal cancer, Crohn’s disease, diverticular disease and others. They often present generalized symptoms that are difficult to recognize, and they vary widely from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening.

Early detection and treatment of colorectal diseases can significantly improve treatment outcomes and survival rates, but because the symptoms are similar to those of many other medical conditions, colorectal diseases are often ignored, misdiagnosed or mistreated. For this reason, it is crucial to have routine screenings and to be treated by a colorectal surgeon when problems do arise. The colorectal specialists at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center have the skill and technology needed to determine what is causing your symptoms, help you understand what treatment may be needed and provide the best possible treatment for a positive outcome.

Colorectal Cancer – The Silent Disease

Colorectal cancer is known as the silent disease because symptoms usually don’t appear until the disease has progressed. That’s why routine screening is so important. And if symptoms do appear, it is important to get medical care right away.

Are You at Risk for Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in the U.S. The average person has a 1 in 20 chance of developing colorectal cancer. Factors that increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer include:

  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • Personal history of colorectal polyps
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Inactive lifestyle
Learn more about your risk of developing colorectal cancer and how you can reduce your risk using the Colorectal Cancer Risk Assessment Tool from the National Cancer Institute.


Genetic predisposition is a major factor for diseases of the colon and rectum, but there are things you can do to improve your chances of avoiding these diseases. Some steps you can take to reduce your risk include:

  • Eating five or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day
  • Substitutinge chicken and fish for red meat
  • Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise every day
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol
  • Havinge a screening colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50 or age 40 if you have a family history of colorectal cancer – or as recommended by your physician
Be sure to tell your physician if your family has a history of colorectal or other cancers.


Early detection is key to overcoming cancer and other diseases of the colon and rectum. Warning signs include:

  • Anal itching
  • Abdominal and rectal pain
  • Changes in bowel function, such as constipation and diarrhea
  • Mucous discharge
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Sensitive lumps
  • Underwear stains
  • Weight loss


Diagnostic tools for identifying a variety of colorectal conditions include:

  • Barium enema X-ray
  • Biofeedback
  • CT colonography
  • Colonoscopy
  • Digital rectal exam (DRE)
  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Manometry
  • MRI and other imaging procedures
  • Stool DNA test
  • Ultrasound
  • Virtual colonoscopy (computed tomography)
  • Visual inspection of anal canal and rectum

Contact Us

To learn more, for help finding a physician or to schedule an appointment, call 1.800.3.ADVOCATE (1.800.323.8622). You can also find a physician and request an appointment online.

Physicians: To refer a patient, call 773.296.7095.

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