Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last several inches of the colon. Together, they’re often referred to as colorectal cancers.Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time some of these polyps become colon cancers.
Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screening tests to help prevent colon cancer by identifying polyps before they become colon cancer.
Diverticulitis occurs when one or more diverticula in your digestive tract become inflamed or infected. Diverticula are small, bulging pouches that can form anywhere in your digestive system, including your esophagus, stomach and small intestine. However, they’re most commonly found in the large intestine.
Diverticula are common, especially after age 40. When you have diverticula, the condition is known as diverticulosis. You may never even know you have these pouches because they seldom cause any problems, such as diverticulitis.
Sometimes, however, diverticulitis occurs. This condition can cause severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea and a marked change in your bowel habits. Mild cases of diverticulitis can be treated with rest, changes in your diet and antibiotics. But serious cases of diverticulitis may require surgery.
Colectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of your colon. Your colon, also called your large intestine, is a long tube-like organ at the end of your digestive system. Colectomy may be necessary to treat or prevent diseases and conditions that affect your colon.
There are various types of colectomy operations:
- Total colectomy involves removing the entire colon.
- Partial colectomy involves removing part of the colon and may also be called subtotal colectomy.
- Hemicolectomy involves removing the right or left portion of the colon.
- Proctocolectomy involves removing both the colon and rectum.
Colectomy surgery usually requires other procedures to reattach the remaining portions of your digestive system and permit waste to leave your body.
Also called piles, are swollen and inflamed veins in your anus and lower rectum. Hemorrhoids may result from straining during bowel movements or from the increased pressure on these veins during pregnancy, among other causes. Hemorrhoids may be located inside the rectum (internal hemorrhoids), or they may develop under the skin around the anus (external hemorrhoids).
Hemorrhoids are common ailments. By age 50, about half of adults have had to deal with the itching, discomfort and bleeding that can signal the presence of hemorrhoids.
Fortunately, many effective options are available to treat hemorrhoids. Most people can get relief from symptoms by using home treatments and making lifestyle changes.
Minimally invasive procedures
If a blood clot has formed within an external hemorrhoid, your doctor can remove the clot with a simple incision, which may provide prompt relief.
For persistent bleeding or painful hemorrhoids, your doctor may recommend another minimally invasive procedure. These treatments can be done in your doctor’s office or other outpatient setting.
- Rubber band ligation. Your doctor places one or two tiny rubber bands around the base of an internal hemorrhoid to cut off its circulation. The hemorrhoid withers and falls off within a week. This procedure — called rubber band ligation — is effective for many people.
Hemorrhoid banding can be uncomfortable and may cause bleeding, which might begin two to four days after the procedure but is rarely severe.
- Injection (sclerotherapy). In this procedure, your doctor injects a chemical solution into the hemorrhoid tissue to shrink it. While the injection causes little or no pain, it may be less effective than rubber band ligation.
- Coagulation (infrared, laser or bipolar). Coagulation techniques use laser or infrared light or heat. They cause small, bleeding, internal hemorrhoids to harden and shrivel.
While coagulation has few side effects, it’s associated with a higher rate of hemorrhoids coming back (recurrence) than is the rubber band treatment.
If other procedures haven’t been successful or you have large hemorrhoids, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure. Surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis or you may need to stay in the hospital overnight.
- Hemorrhoid removal. During a hemorrhoidectomy, your surgeon removes excessive tissue that causes bleeding. Various techniques may be used. The surgery may be done with a local anesthetic combined with sedation, a spinal anesthetic or a general anesthetic.
Hemorrhoidectomy is the most effective and complete way to treat severe or recurring hemorrhoids. Complications may include temporary difficulty emptying your bladder and urinary tract infections associated with this problem.
Most people experience some pain after the procedure. Medications can relieve your pain. Soaking in a warm bath also may help.
- Hemorrhoid stapling. This procedure, called stapled hemorrhoidectomy or stapled hemorrhoidopexy, blocks blood flow to hemorrhoidal tissue. Stapling generally involves less pain than hemorrhoidectomy and allows an earlier return to regular activities.
Compared with hemorrhoidectomy, however, stapling has been associated with a greater risk of recurrence and rectal prolapse, in which part of the rectum protrudes from the anus. Talk with your doctor about what might be the best option for you.
Anal fistula is the medical term for an infected tunnel that develops between the skin and the muscular opening at the end of the digestive tract (anus). Most anal fistulas are the result of an infection in an anal gland that spreads to the skin. Surgery is usually needed to treat anal fistula.