Colon and rectal diseases comprise a broad range of conditions and ailments, the severity of which can vary from mildly irritating to life threatening. Research has demonstrated that early screening and treatment of colon and rectal diseases can significantly improve treatment outcomes and survival rates, yet many patients delay or don’t seek treatment because of lack of knowledge about their disease and its symptoms or the benefits of early treatment, or are too embarrassed to seek help.
Because the symptoms of different colon and rectal disease can closely resemble those of other such diseases, there is the potential for misdiagnosis and mistreatment. This is a crucial reason why these diseases should be treated by colon and rectal surgeons, experts in the surgical and nonsurgical treatment of colon and rectal problems.
A colon and rectal surgeon is trained to diagnose and treat patients with various diseases of the intestinal tract through medical and surgical means. This specialist may also deal with the liver, urinary, and female reproductive systems if they are involved with primary intestinal disease.
A colon and rectal surgeon has expertise in diagnosing and managing anorectal conditions such as hemorrhoids, fissures (painful tears in the anal lining), abscesses, and fistulae (infections located around the anus and rectum). Training in colon and rectal surgery also provides the specialist with in-depth knowledge of intestinal and anorectal physiology required for the treatment of problems such as constipation and incontinence. They also treat problems of the intestine and colon and perform endoscopic procedures to detect and treat conditions of the bowel lining, such as cancer, polyps (precancerous growths), and inflammatory conditions. A colon and rectal specialist also performs abdominal surgical procedures involving the colon, rectum, and small bowel for the treatment of cancer, diverticulitis, and inflammatory bowel disease (such as chronic ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease). These operations may be performed with traditional (open) or minimally invasive (laparoscopic) techniques.
In addition, studies have shown that patients treated by colon and rectal surgeons are more likely to survive colorectal cancer and will pay less for surgical care because of colon and rectal surgeons’ advanced training and the high volume of colon and rectal disease surgeries they perform.
American College of Surgeons and American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons