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UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Surgical Oncology — Colorectal cancer

News & Features

Joanne Wellman 

Colorectal cancer survivor shares her story  

Joanne Wellman emphasizes the importance of regular colonoscopy screenings and being proactive in your own health.

Colorectal screening for Latinos 

Leveling the playing field for Latinos  

Software program aims to boost colorectal cancer screening rates.

Neil Hunter © 2010 UC Regents 

Researcher Spotlight: Neil Hunter — Understanding genomic instability  

See how Hunter and his colleagues are working to understand the nature and causes of genomic instability, the mechanisms of DNA repair and the consequences of defective DNA repair with respect to colorectal cancer and other diseases.

New Patient Support

Peer Navigator Program 

Peer navigator program provides one-to-one peer support  

This special program matches newly-diagnosed cancer patients with cancer survivors.

Related Resources

Surgical oncology procedure © UC RegentsUC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for patients with all stages of colon cancer aimed at preservation of critical functions, prevention of disease recurrence and optimization of quality of life. Your team of cancer specialists may include experts in surgerymedical oncology and radiation oncology, gastroenterologists, pathologists, radiologists, oncology nurses, registered dietitians, clinical research associates, genetic counselors and social workers. 



Colorectal cancer, or cancers of the colon and rectum, which are parts of the body's digestive system, is the third most common type of cancer and a leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women.

Physicians and surgeons in the Colorectal Cancer Program at UC Davis Health System are accustomed to treating the most advanced and challenging cases of colorectal cancer from throughout inland Northern California, and have built a reputation for innovative therapies and surgical techniques that minimize the need for temporary or permanent colostomies. Our specialists also have extensive experience and expertise with colorectal cancers that have spread to the liver or other areas of the abdomen.

Collaboratively, team members design an individualized course of treatment for each patient.

A number of methods can be used to screen individuals for colorectal cancer, such as colonoscopies (the rectum and entire colon are examined), sigmoidoscopy (the rectum and lower colon are examined), and Fecal Occult Blood Test (checking for blood in fecal material). Based on an individual’s risk factors and family history, people should discuss with their health care provider when they should begin and how often they should undergo screenings.

Surgical interventions

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center specialists use a combination of advanced medical and surgical techniques, including staging with endorectal ultrasound, preoperative chemoradiation, external-beam radiation and colonic stents. Our surgeons are skilled at treating rectal cancers, using such advanced techniques as transanal tumor resection and nerve-sparing total mesorectal resection. We also offer multiple treatment options for patients whose cancer has spread to the liver, including radiofrequency ablation to destroy liver tumors and direct chemotherapy delivered to the liver via pumps.

Specific surgical procedures may include:

  • Laparoscopic (minimally invasive) colon resection: Unlike open surgery, which can involve a lengthy hospital stay and recovery period, laparoscopic colon surgery allows patients to heal faster, regain function and return to normal activities more quickly.
  • Sphincter-saving rectal surgery: This procedure aims to preserve continence and avoid a permanent colostomy after removal of the rectum.
  • Transanal resection of rectal cancer: For early-stage rectal cancer or for rectal tumors near the anus, this procedure involves tumor surgery performed with instruments inserted through the anus. This approach is usually done with general anesthesia and reduces the length of post-operative hospitalization.
  • Nerve-sparing total mesorectal excision: This approach reduces the changes for sexual and urinary dysfunction following surgery.
  • Minimally invasive colostomy: In some cases, when colon surgery results in an inability to pass feces through the anus, the surgeon will make small incisions in the abdomen and use laparoscopic instruments to create an opening in the large intestine that allows feces to bypass the rectum and drain into a pouch or other collection device. This avoids delay in beginning other treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Clinical trials

The close collaboration among our doctors and research scientists means that new drugs and treatments developed in the laboratory can quickly move to the clinic, offering our liver cancer patients immediate access to the latest therapies.

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center offers a number of colorectal cancer clinical trials.

 CLINICAL TRIALS at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center


Khatri VP. Cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy for colorectal cancer: a panacea or just an obstacle course for the patient? Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2010 Jan 1;28(1):5-7.  
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Khatri VP. Synchronous colorectal liver metastases: triumph of prospective randomized trials over observational bias leads to paradigm shift. Annals of Surgical Oncology. 2009 Jul;16(7):1762-4.  
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Khatri VP, Chee KG, Petrelli NJ. Modern multimodality approach to hepatic colorectal metastases: solutions and controversies. Surgical Oncology. 2007 Jul;16(1):71-83.  
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Alcalay A, Wun T, Khatri V, Chew HK, Harvey D, Zhou H, White RH. Venous thromboembolism in patients with colorectal cancer: incidence and effect on survival. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2006 Mar 1;24(7):1112-8. 
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Kehoe J, Khatri VP. Staging and prognosis of colon cancer. Surgical Oncology Clinics of North America. 2006 Jan;15(1):129-46. 
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Kehoe J, Khatri VP. Staging and prognosis of colorectal cancer. Surgical Oncology Clinics of North America, 2006 15(1), 129-46.  
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Mortenson M, Petrelli NJ, Khatri VP. Total mesorectal excision and pelvic-node dissection for rectal cancer: An appraisal. Surgical Oncology Clinics of North America, 2006. (In Press)
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Khatri VP, Petrelli NJ, Belghiti J. Extending the frontiers of surgical therapy for hepatic colorectal metastases: is there a limit? Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2005 Nov 20;23(33):8490-9.  
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Khatri VP. Metastatic colorectal carcinoma: pushing the surgical envelope of cure. Annals of Surgical Oncology. 2005 Nov;12(11):866-7.   
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Khatri VP, McGahan J. Non-resection approaches for colorectal liver metastases. The Surgical Clinics of North America. 2004 Apr;84(2):587-606.  
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Your Team

Oncologists Specializing in Colon Cancer


John McGahan, M.D.
Professor of Radiology


Edward Kim, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, Hematology and Oncology

Michael S. Tanaka, Jr., M.D.
Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Hematology and Oncology

Radiation Oncology

Arta Monjazeb, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor