​Overview of Colorectal Cancer Program

Colorectal cancer is a cancer affecting the colon or rectum. Also known as bowel, colon or rectal cancer, it occurs when cancerous cells form in the inner lining of the colon or rectal wall. 

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UAE in both men and women. It usually affects people over the age of 40 and the number of cases has increased over the last decade according to the Department of Health. However, the number of cases of colorectal cancer in younger age groups is also on the rise.

Screening tests can detect colorectal cancer early and can increase chances of successful treatment and survival. Regular screening can also reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer altogether. 

Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Lives

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Why choose the Colorectal Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi?

Our multidisciplinary Colorectal Cancer Program team, in collaboration with Cleveland Clinic Foundation main campus in Ohio, provides state-of-the-art, compassionate, and culturally sensitive care for patients with colorectal cancer in the region. We partner with the patient and their family to provide the best chance of cure with a focus on improving quality-of-life. 

We offer minimally invasive​ robotic surgery​ to help patients return to their normal way of life as quickly and effectively as possible.

Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

The most common symptom of colorectal cancer is a change in your bowel habits. This may include seeing blood when you go to the toilet, persistent pain or bloating in your lower abdomen when you eat and a loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss. If you notice any of these symptoms for more than a few weeks, you should see a specialist. However, in the early stages of colorectal cancer, there may be no symptoms, which is why screening is important. 

Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

The cause of colorectal cancer is unknown, but there are some things that may increase your chances of developing it. These include:

  • Age: Most people with colorectal cancer are over 40
  • Family history: Having a close relative who developed the disease at a young age puts you at greater risk
  • Diet: Colorectal cancer is more common in those with a diet that is high in fat and processed meats and low in fiber
  • Weight: If you are overweight or obese, and you do not exercise, your risk is higher
  • Smoking: Smoking may increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer.


There are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer. These include leading a healthier lifestyle by maintaining a healthy weight, improving your diet, quitting smoking and having regular screenings.


As with other types of cancer, colorectal cancer is much easier to treat when found early and can be prevented altogether with regular screening. In the early stages, it may show no symptoms, so screening is key to detection. Screening can also detect polyps, which are abnormal growths that can go on to become cancerous if not treated. Regular colorectal cancer screening, for an average risk individual without any symptoms or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, is recommended from the age of 40 in the UAE.

The Colorectal Cancer Screening Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi specializes in the early detection and prevention of colorectal cancer. Screening tests include:

  • Colonoscopy: The gold standard in colon cancer screening, the procedure is done while asleep using a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end. It allows a doctor to look at the entire colon and rectum, and allows the detection and removal of polyps in the colon 
  • Sigmoidoscopy: A test using a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end which then looks at the lower end of the large intestine 
  • Stool test: A tool sample is sent to the laboratory and examined for signs of cancer.


If a screening test shows any anomalies, our program experts will advise the next steps for a conclusive diagnosis. Diagnostic tests can include blood tests, a biopsy, colonoscopy or certain scans.  

What We Treat

  • Anal cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Genetic syndromes causing colorectal polyps and cancer such as Lynch Syndrome and Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP)
  • Large colorectal polyps
  • Metastatic colorectal cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST’s) of the colon and rectum
  • Neuroendocrine tumors (carcinoid tumors) of the colon and rectum


If colorectal cancer is diagnosed, a treatment plan tailored to you is developed. Treatment involves a multidisciplinary approach, with experts from multiple specialties coming together to find the most appropriate course of action for you. 

Treatment may involve surgery and, depending on the size and location of the tumor, chemotherapy and radiation may be necessary. The colorectal surgery team can usually perform minimally invasive surgery. Using state-of-the-art precision laparoscopic and robotic techniques, minimally invasive surgery means less pain, faster recovery and better treatment outcomes. Treatments may include:

  • Colon or rectal resection with liver resection
  • Colonoscopy with polypectomy, colonoscopy with endoscopic mucosal resection EMR)
  • Genetic counseling
  • Ileostomy and colostomy creation
  • Laparoscopic surgery
  • Proctectomy or rectal resection (low anterior resection, abdominoperineal resection, sphincter-sparing intersphincteric restorative proctectomy)
  • Minimally invasive Robotic surgery​
  • Segmental (partial) or total colectomy
  • Small bowel resection
  • Total proctocolectomy with ileal J pouch reconstruction
  • Transanal excision, transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM)

Colorectal Cancer Program Caregivers

Patients undergoing colorectal surgery at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi enter the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program. This program involves bringing together a range of caregivers who work together to make sure you recover from treatment as quickly as possible. Caregivers involved may include:​Nurses

  • Nurses
  • Physicians
  • Surgeons
  • Enterostomal therapists
  • Nutritionists


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