Colorectal Cancer

colorectal cancer

P. Jeffrey Ferris, MD, colorectal cancer surgeon at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Maryland. The cancer typically has no symptoms until it has already progressed to later stages – making it much more difficult to treat. The good news is that a routine colonoscopy every 10 years, starting at age 50, could help save thousands of lives in this country every year by finding and removing polyps before they have a chance to turn into cancer, or detecting colon cancer in its early stages when treatment is most effective.

The MedStar Health Cancer Network has joined forces with the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable by pledging to support the “80% by 2018” initiative – a nationwide goal to increase colorectal cancer screening rates to 80% in the next two years. Learn more about the partnership

Know the Facts

  • Approximately 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year
  • Screening is the best way to protect yourself from colorectal cancer
  • Colorectal cancer often has no symptoms until it’s at an advanced stage
  • Beginning at age 50 (or earlier if you have a family history), everyone should talk to a doctor about getting a screening test for colorectal cancer

Learn more about colorectal cancer, including: 

About Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is cancer that develops in the colon or rectum and is diagnosed in more than 130,000 people each year in the United States alone. At MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center in Baltimore, we understand how difficult a cancer diagnosis is, but you can rely on our devoted colorectal cancer teams. From diagnosis to treatment to follow-up care, our knowledgeable doctors and nurses will answer any questions you may have about colon and rectal cancer and will be with you every step of the way.

Colorectal cancer, also known as rectal cancer or colon cancer, typically begins as a small, noncancerous polyp  that is detected through a regular cancer screening, such as a colonoscopy. A polyp is not cancer, but it can change over time into cancer. Fortunately for patients who have been diagnosed with colon cancer, it’s highly treatable when discovered early, and both surgical treatments and chemotherapy are very effective if cancer has begun to spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of your body.


In many cases, colorectal cancer has no symptoms, especially in the early stages. The symptoms typically only appear in the later stages of the disease when it becomes harder to treat. Because of the lack of colon cancer symptoms, it’s important to get regular colorectal cancer screenings like a colonoscopy.

Learn more about colorectal cancer symptoms.

Risk Factors

Many risk factors can increase your chances of developing colorectal cancer, such as being overweight, low levels of physical activity, poor diet, smoking, and alcohol use. However, having a risk factor, or even many of them, does not mean that you will get colorectal cancer. In some cases of colorectal cancer, the patient has no risk factors but still develops the disease.

 If you do have any of these risk factors, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to suggest ways to reduce your risk, especially lifestyle factors that you can change.

Learn more about the risk factors for colorectal cancer.

Prevention and Screening

In most cases of colorectal cancer, the disease develops from noncancerous growths called polyps in the colon or rectum. Regular cancer screenings, especially after the age of 50, are the key to colorectal cancer prevention. Screening tests allow your MedStar doctor to find these polyps so that they can remove them before they develop into cancer. It’s also important to avoid risk factors, such as eating poorly, smoking and lack of exercise.

Learn more about prevention and screenings for colorectal cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis

Our goal at MedStar Franklin Square is to complete the diagnostic phase promptly so that you can begin treatment as soon as possible. We use the most advanced diagnostic technology to diagnose and stage your cancer because we know that the more accurate your diagnosis, the more precise your treatment regimen will be.

Doctors at MedStar health use a variety of methods to diagnose colon cancer. The diagnostic process typically starts with a physical examination or colonoscopy to identify noncancerous polyps or other signs of colorectal cancer. If a polyp or other signs of colorectal cancer are found, your MedStar doctor may perform a biopsy, molecular testing , blood tests or other diagnostic procedures.

Learn more about the diagnosis of colorectal cancer


If you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, your MedStar cancer team will proceed quickly into the treatment phase. Your treatment options depend on many factors, including the size and location, the stage of your colorectal cancer, whether or not cancer has spread to your lymph nodes or other parts of your body and your overall health. In most cases of colorectal cancer, surgery is the recommended treatment option, and your doctor may combine it with other colorectal cancer treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy. 

At MedStar Franklin Square, your colorectal cancer team will carefully explain each treatment option, give you advice, and thoroughly support you throughout your treatment process, which may include radiation and chemotherapy

Learn more about treatments for colorectal cancer.

Location Information

For a physician referral, please call 443-777-7900.

For more information about our clinical trials, please call 443-777-7364.

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237

Learn about all MedStar Health Baltimore Cancer Network colorectal cancer treatment locations 

Colorectal Cancer Specialists 

Jeffrey Ferris, MD, colorectal cancer surgeon

Learn More

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