Colon & Rectal Cancer Program

High Performing Hospital for Colon Cancer SurgeryThe Colorectal Cancer Institute at The Steeplechase Cancer Center is dedicated to providing the latest colorectal cancer prevention, detection and treatment services.


While we do not know the exact cause of most colorectal cancer, there are certain known risk factors.

Screening Recommendations

For men and women at average risk for cancer (those without a family history of colon or rectal cancer), the most widely recommended and most effective screening tool is colonoscopy, a painless procedure performed under deep sedation.

Early detection is key to fighting colon and rectal cancers. Screening for colorectal cancer should begin at age 45.

Other screening options for those who can not have a colonscopy for medical reasons include:

  • Yearly fecal occult blood test or fecal immunochemical test (FIT)

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years

  • Yearly stool blood test plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years (preferred)

  • Double contrast barium enema every 5 years

An endoscopic ultrasound also may be used. If any polyps are found they should be removed if possible.

While a digital rectal exam (DRE) is often done as part of a regular physical exam, it should not be used as a stand-alone test for colorectal cancer. For a DRE, the doctor examines the patient’s rectum with a gloved finger.

People with certain risk factors should begin screening earlier or have screening more often. Talk to your doctor about your own risk and when you should have screening tests.


If cancer is present, close collaboration among the patient, gastroenterologist, surgeon, oncologist and radiation oncologist ensures the best possible outcome. The four main options of treatment for colorectal cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and newer, targeted therapies called monoclonal antibodies. Depending on the stage of your cancer, two or more types of treatment may be used.

Surgery is the main treatment for colon cancer. In a colorectal resection, the cancer and a length of normal colon on either side of the cancer as well as nearby lymph nodes are removed. The two ends of the colon are then sewn back together. A colectomy may be performed to remove all or part of the colon. Laparoscopic surgical options also are available.

Sometimes very early colon cancer can be removed through a colonoscope. When this is done, the doctor does not have to cut into the abdomen. Surgery for colon cancer can sometimes be done laparoscopically. In this method, a lighted tube and special instruments are placed inside the body through a few small incisions, rather than one large one.

Surgery is usually the main treatment for rectal cancer, too, although radiation and chemotherapy often will be given before surgery.

The Steeplechase Cancer Center features a state-of-the-art Varian iX linear accelerator. This equipment uses the latest in computer technology to track and deliver high-energy X-rays to a patient’s tumor with pinpoint accuracy. These X-rays can destroy the cancer cells while sparing the surrounding normal tissue. The Radiation Oncology Department also is equipped with modern treatment planning software, which enables physicians and staff to generate a specialized plan to target the tumor.

Multidisciplinary Team Approach

Each patient’s treatment is guided by a care team of gastroenterologists, medical oncologists, oncologic surgeons, radiation oncologists, radiologists, primary care physicians, pathologists, medical physicists, radiation therapists, highly skilled certified oncology nurses, social workers, case managers, nutritionists, pharmacists and pastoral care staff. A multidisciplinary team continually reviews and updates our treatment protocols, ensuring we are providing the most advanced care to improve the quality of life for our patients.

Colorectal Cancer

Our gastrointestinal system plays an important role in our body, helping to absorb nutrients from our food and remove the waste. In the United States, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and in women, and the second most common cause of cancer deaths when numbers for men and women are combined. It's expected to cause about 52,580 deaths during 2022. Learn more about some of the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer, how to reduce your risk, the importance of early detection, and available treatment options from Dr. Brendan Scully, a board-certified Colon and Rectal Surgeon with RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group who sees patients at the Steeplechase Cancer Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.

EBC Radio Interview About Colon Cancer

Listen as Ehsan Patel, MD, speaks with EBC Radio about gastrointestinal and colon cancer screening.

Listen to EBC Radio interview

Patient Stories

  • Sanchez’s positive experience at Steeplechase Cancer Center has inspired her to pay it forward... she plans to become a medical assistant.

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  • "Knowing that I was doing something more helped me mentally...I liked that I was doing something to keep fighting.”

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  • “Simona held my hand every step of the way, ensured every appointment that I needed was made and that I was comfortable”

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