Colon and rectal (colorectal) cancer is the third most common cancer found in men and women in the United States. Although colorectal cancer mortality rates have been declining, more than 50,000 people die annually from this disease. However, when these cancers are detected and treated at an early stage, they are cured in 90% of all cases.
Our Multidisciplinary Colorectal Cancer Clinic cares for patients with colon or rectal cancer, from cancers still at an early or localized stage, to more complex disease. We offer a comprehensive inpatient and outpatient cancer care program, delivered by a multidisciplinary team with subspecialty training and distinguished clinical expertise in treating complex and rare subtypes of cancer.
Whether you are newly diagnosed or have failed to respond to standard treatment, a significant advantage of treatment at the University of Michigan is our multidisciplinary weekly tumor board. These meetings allow patients to have the expertise of a team of colon and rectum specialists without having to schedule individual appointments. The tumor board includes surgeons trained as colorectal, liver and surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, gastroenterologists, pathologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists and genetic counselors. The team develops personalized treatment plans that may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of these treatment methods.
Screening and Diagnosis
The best way for both preventing and detecting colorectal cancer is through a colonoscopy. In fact, when suspicious polyps are found that may progress to cancer, they can usually be removed during the colonoscopy and sent to a pathologist for further analysis and testing.
Genetic screening is another important service. A family history of colorectal cancer, or having the hereditary conditions Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis can predict risk for developing colorectal cancer. Anyone concerned about a family history of cancer has access to genetics counselors at the U-M Genetics Clinic, home of one of the nation’s leading cancer genetics programs, to help identify genetic risk factors, and provide screening recommendations, testing and counseling.
Further diagnostic testing by radiologists may be used to accurately see where cancer cells are located. These diagnostic imaging studies can include x-rays, CT scans, PET scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or 3-D ultrasound. Each of these tests offer detailed information to help doctors as they develop your individualized treatment plan.
Surgical and Therapeutic Options
Our team of surgeons includes colorectal, liver and surgical oncologists offering advanced surgical techniques for patients with localized colorectal cancer as well as patients with metastatic disease. The surgeons are trained in both open and laparoscopic techniques and collaborate with plastic surgeons, urologic surgeons and gynecological surgeons when needed, for example, to reconstruct the pelvic floor.
You will also see medical oncologists who create individualized chemotherapy and targeted therapy treatments to reduce the risk of disease recurrence, improve resectability (tumors that can be removed surgically are called resectable) and treat more advanced unresectable tumors.
Radiation therapy is another treatment option available. The radiation oncologists offer novel approaches in their procedures, and provide the latest in technology and knowledge so you are receiving the best care, as comfortably as possible.
These teams work seamlessly through your individualized treatment plan established during the weekly tumor board.
Research and Discovery
We are dedicated to moving our colorectal cancer research from laboratory to bedside in order to decrease mortality and, to that end, offer patients a number of clinical trials.
Since the clinic is part of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, patients and their families have access to Patient/Family Support Services – programs, resources and services to help cope with and navigate through the cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Make an Appointment
Patients are usually referred to the clinic by their physicians, however, if you are seeking other treatment options or a second opinion, call 734-647-8902.