A Few Words on Colectomies

As a genetic counselor, I cannot go into a lot of detail regarding what it’s like to have a colectomy, but I want to provide a little bit of background to Travis’ fantastic and very frank post, this week. A colectomy is a surgery to remove the large intestine, or colon.  A colectomy may be used as part of the treatment for someone who has colorectal cancer, or it may be used to prevent colorectal cancer in those with a high risk due to a hereditary cancer syndrome, such as Lynch syndrome or FAP (familial adenomatous polyposis).

A colectomy may be done in a variety of ways which may involve removing some, all, or none of the rectum.  There are also several different ways to “connect you back up.”  A j-pouch, as mentioned by Travis in his post, is one of the techniques a surgeon may use to connect the small intestine to the anus.  To watch a video of Travis describing more of his story and illustrating how a j-pouch works, click here. The type of surgery performed will impact your bowel function after surgery.  If you will be having a colectomy or are considering it, it is important to talk to your surgeon about what type of procedure he or she recommends for you, how you can expect it to impact you afterwards, and what measures you should take to stay healthy.  For more information on what to expect, what to ask your surgeon, and how to find a doctor who specializes in colorectal surgery, visit this site: https://www.fascrs.org/patients.

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