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Surgical Services & Procedures

Colon Cancer Surgery

Surgical Associates of La Jolla provides outstanding treatment for colorectal problems, including colon polyps, diverticulitis and colon cancer. Our team of surgeons uses advanced techniques, including minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery, to diagnose colorectal cancer and perform colon cancer surgery. We are known throughout San Diego, including La Jolla, North County, and surrounding communities, for providing skilled and compassionate care of the highest standard. If you have even a suspicion that you or a loved one has a colorectal problem or cancerous growth, contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our surgeons as soon as possible.

About the colon

The colon, or large intestine, is the tube-like organ at the end of the digestive tract. It is lined with muscles that move waste from the small intestine to the rectum, where stool is eliminated. The colon also absorbs fluids and nutrients from digested food. Getting enough fiber, water, and exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy colon and promoting regularity.

Unhealthy Colon Growths

When cells in the colon's tissue develop irregularly, growths can form on the colon wall. These growths, called polyps or, if they are malignant, colon cancer, should be detected as soon as possible, since they can cause blockage or break off and spread to other parts of the intestines. Individuals experiencing symptoms of an abnormal growth, including rectal bleeding, bloody stool, constipation or diarrhea, or pain or bowel obstruction, should seek treatment as soon as possible.

Surgical Associates of La Jolla treats both colon polyps and cancerous growths, providing advanced laparoscopic colon surgery when necessary. Patients in San Diego, including La Jolla, North County, and surrounding areas, can contact our practice for further information on these conditions.

Colon Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, colon cancer (cancer that begins in the colon or rectum, or colorectal cancer) is the fourth most common cancer in both men and women. A cancerous growth can also begin as a non-malignant polyp, so people with colon polyps should have the polyps removed and have regular check-ups to monitor development of new growths. Contact our colon surgery center in La Jolla to schedule a consultation.

Colon Polyps

A colon polyp is a small clump of cells that forms on the colon. Polyps can be anywhere from pea-size to golf ball-size. While this cell growth is abnormal, polyps are not usually cancerous. However, since a polyp can become cancerous if it is not removed, timely treatment is essential.


Diverticulosis is a condition in which small pouches (diverticula) form on the colon wall. Diverticula are caused by pressure that builds when the colon muscles have to squeeze too hard to expel waste. Symptoms may include bloating, mild cramping, constipation, diarrhea, urgency, or, in rare cases, rectal bleeding.

Diverticulitis results when pouches formed in diverticulosis become infected or inflamed. This infection can cause the diverticula to swell or burst and may produce symptoms such as pain, fever, chills, and, in severe cases, infection of the abdominal cavity (peritonitis). Diverticulitis is more painful and serious than diverticulosis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

colon cancer surgery center provides patients in San Diego and surrounding areas with outstanding treatment for colorectal problems. Treatment begins with an evaluation of your health and family health history as well as diagnostic tests. These exams, which generally cause only minimal discomfort, include:

  • Digital Rectal Exam - The doctor detects signs of tissue change by gently inserting a gloved finger into the rectum. This takes less than a minute and allows for the detection of many easily overlooked cancers.
  • Sigmoidoscopy - The doctor examines the lower colon with a sigmoidoscope (a lighted tube) that is inserted into the colon. This procedure does not require sedation and allows for the detection of about half of all colon cancers. (In sigmoidoscopy, as with colonoscopy, there is a risk of bleeding and puncturing of the colon.)
  • Barium Enema - The doctor or radiologist fills the colon with liquid barium and then takes x-rays. This provides an image of the entire colon.
  • Colonoscopy - The doctor inserts a thin lighted tube with a camera attached into the colon. The colonoscope takes pictures of the entire colon. A doctor can also use a colonoscopy to collect tissue samples and remove small polyps. (In colonoscopy, as with sigmoidoscopy, there is a risk of bleeding and puncturing of the colon.)

Treatment for Colon Cancer

Patients who are diagnosed with colon cancer can expect to receive compassionate, meticulous care at Surgical Associates of La Jolla. We use advanced laparoscopic surgery techniques to perform colon cancer surgery, distinguishing us from other practices in North County and greater San Diego. While surgery is usually the most effective way to remove cancerous parts of the colon, treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation may be needed to treat cancer that has spread beyond the colon.

Preparing for Colon Cancer Surgery

To prepare for colon cancer surgery, patients should quit smoking and stop taking any blood-thinning medication several weeks before surgery. The day before the procedure, patients must follow a clear liquid diet for 24 hours, and they should stop eating and drinking after midnight. Some patients will also have a bowel prep to clean the colon.

The Procedure

To begin colon cancer surgery, general anesthesia is administered. When the anesthetic has taken full effect, the surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen. Using a laparoscope, he removes the cancerous growth and surrounding section of the colon. Then, he stitches the two remaining ends together so that the colon retains its tube-like shape. Finally, he sutures the abdominal incision closed. Very few patients require a colostomy, in which an opening (stoma) is created in the abdomen to eliminate waste from the bowel. The colon is redirected toward this opening, so that waste exits through the stoma instead of through the rectum.

Treatment for Colon Polyps

The best treatment for colon polyps is usually to remove the growth. This can be done with a colonoscopy, or, in cases involving larger or unreachable polyps, with abdominal surgery. To learn more about treatment options for colon polyps or colon cancer surgery, contact our office in La Jolla.

Treatment for Diverticulosis

Depending on the severity of the condition, a change in diet (increased fiber and water) and exercise habits may be all that is needed to manage the problem. Stool softening or antispasmodic medications may also alleviate symptoms.

Treatment for Diverticulitis

Treatment for diverticulosis depends on the severity of the condition. Treatment for mild diverticulitis often begins with a brief liquid diet and oral antibiotics followed by a high-fiber diet. Medications may be prescribed to relieve pressure and pain. More severe cases may require hospitalization, intravenous antibiotics, and, in some cases, surgery to remove part of the colon. Our surgeons have recently published some of the largest experience in Southern California for the laparoscopic removal of the sigmoid colon in patients who suffer from diverticulitis