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Colorectal Cancer

We understand the thought of a colonoscopy can be embarrassing. But it shouldn’t be. Chesapeake Regional's team of gastroenterologists has earned national recognition in gastroenterology year after year. And research shows that early detection of cancer through colonoscopy results in a 90 percent recovery rate. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones.

Each year, cancer of the colon or rectum kills more Americans than any other cancer except lung cancer. Portsmouth, Chesterfield, and Western Tidewater had the highest mortality rates from colorectal cancer among the 35 health districts [in Virginia]. But the outlook is bright. Experts are discovering more ways to lower your risk of dying from this cancer that attacks the digestive system.

Diagnostic Options

There are several tests that can be used to screen for colon cancer. The most effective screening test is the colonoscopy, which is recommended for everyone over the age of 50 and possibly earlier for anyone with parents, siblings or children with a history of certain types of cancer or polyps. Your doctor can help you determine when to start screening..

Chesapeake Regional Healthcare offers a comprehensive approach to your colon and rectal health. When detected early, colorectal cancer is highly treatable. That’s why we offer various screenings for early detection and diagnosis and make recommendations for prevention of colorectal cancer. 


Colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine (rectum and colon). He or she uses a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope to look at the colon. A colonoscopy helps find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected (biopsy) and abnormal growths can be taken out. Colonoscopy can also be used as a screening test to check for cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum (polyps).

Fecal Occult Blood Test

When doctors test for fecal occult blood they are testing for the presence of microscopic or invisible blood in the stool, or feces. Fecal occult blood can be a sign of a problem in your digestive system, such as a growth, or polyp, or cancer in the colon or rectum. If microscopic blood is detected, it is important for your doctor to determine the source of bleeding to properly diagnose and treat the problem.

Double Contrast Barium Enema

A barium enema, or lower gastrointestinal (GI) examination, is an X-ray examination of the large intestine (colon and rectum). The test is used to help diagnose diseases and other problems that affect the large intestine. To make the intestine visible on an X-ray picture, the colon is filled with a contrast material containing barium. This is done by pouring the contrast material through a tube inserted into the anus. The barium blocks X-rays, causing the barium-filled colon to show up clearly on the X-ray picture. In a double-contrast or air-contrast study, the colon is first filled with barium and then the barium is drained out, leaving only a thin layer of barium on the wall of the colon. The colon is then filled with air. This provides a detailed view of the inner surface of the colon, making it easier to see narrowed areas (strictures), diverticula, or inflammation.

Treatment Options

Our multidisciplinary team of board-certified surgeons, gastroenterologists, oncologists, radiologists, pathologists and nurses work together to ensure patients receive comprehensive, personalized care. Our surgeons offer the latest minimally invasive surgical techniques and have specialized training in treating digestive conditions.


Laparoscopic or “minimally invasive” surgery is a specialized technique for performing surgery. Chesapeake Regional uses laparoscopic surgery for colorectal surgery, where small incisions (2-3 inches) are used to perform the surgery.  

Whenever possible our surgeons perform minimally invasive colon resections for diverticulitis, cancer, and other disorders of the colon and rectum. 

For rectal cancer, we use minimally invasive surgery to perform a total mesorectal excision (TME) which removes not only the rectum, but the tissue/lymph nodes surrounding it.  This results in a better outcome for our patients.