Cancer Specialists Collaborate to Analyze Treatment Options: Advanced Techniques Refine Choices


Five years ago, William Mussone was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and told he needed life-changing surgery. Physicians at the Stanford Cancer Center had other ideas about how to help him.

With the help of trainer John Angleson, William Mussone is focused on strengthening his overall health to recover from surgery to remove colorectal cancer and to prevent its recurrence. He's made great progress, driven by a determination to live his life to the fullest.

I thought my life was over... The physicians I met at Stanford just lifted my spirits.

-William Mussone, patient, Stanford Cancer Center

Stanford Hospital thoracic surgeon Richard Whyte listens to Mussone's lungs. Whyte is part of Mussone's treatment team which also includes Mussone's colorectal surgeon, medical oncologists, radiologists, pathologists and radiation oncologists.

As we work together in the same environment, we gather momentum and energy and excitement and this helps us take better care of patients and improve their overall experience.

-Mark Welton, MD, Colorectal Cancer Surgeon, Stanford Cancer Center

Lower Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer

  • Build meals that are low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables and other high-fiber foods. Exercise is also beneficial.
  • If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, let your doctor know. About 20 percent of colorectal cancers are believed to be genetically transmitted.
  • At age 40, ask for an annual fecal blood test.
  • At age 50, ask for a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy screening.

When to See Your Doctor

Symptoms of colorectal cancer can include:

  • blood in stool
  • anemia, fatigue, weakness
  • diarrhea, abdominal pains, cramps, constipation
  • changes in bowel habits

What Can Cause Colorectal Cancer?

The causes of most colorectal cancers are not definitively known. Anal cancer, however, has shown a high association with infection by the human papilloma virus (HPV), the same virus that can be responsible for cervical cancer in women. Stanford's colorectal cancer specialist, Mark Welton, advocates that men and women at high risk for the disease be screened with a tissue sample similar to the cervical tissue test women routinely undergo. When that test, commonly known as a Pap smear, became routine, 40 women in 100,000 died of cervical cancer, Welton said. Now, the number is 6 to 8 per 100,000.