Colorectal surgeons, or proctologists, are doctors who specialize in the medical and surgical treatment of conditions that affect the anus, rectum, or colon. These physicians perform colonoscopies and other diagnostic procedures so that they can identify any issues that require surgical intervention. They then determine what type of surgical procedure would be best. The specialists also care for these patients postoperatively to ensure proper healing and recovery.
Dr. Alberto Peña, the sole practicing colorectal surgeon in Hidalgo County, offers these and other healthcare services to his patients.
“I take care of all kinds of issues ranging from diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, IBS, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis to cancers like colorectal or rectal cancer,” Peña said. “I do minimally invasive surgery, robotic surgery, and colorectal surgery treating benign (non-cancerous) to malignant (cancerous) conditions.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, cdc.gov, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that beginning at age 50 and until age 75, patients should be screened for colorectal cancer by their doctor. The CDC also states those with increased risk of getting colorectal cancer such as individuals who have a “familial colon cancer history, inflammatory bowel disease or certain lifestyle factors” need to check with their doctor to see if they should be screened earlier than age 50.
Colonoscopy screenings consist of using a “long, thin, flexible lighted tube with a camera to check for polyps (abnormal bump-like tissue growths) or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon,” according to cdc.gov. “During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers.”
Another type of screening test is called a fecal occult blood test, which detects blood in the stool. Your doctor will provide you with a test kit, which you will use with the included stick or small brush to collect a small amount of stool. You’ll then return the completed kit to the doctor or lab, where your stool samples will be checked for the presence of blood.
Your doctor will advise which test is right for you.
CDC.gov warns that colorectal cancer doesn’t always show symptoms at first. This makes getting checked all the more vital to your health. However, if you do have symptoms, they may include “blood in or on your stool, persistent stomach aches or cramps and weight loss without knowing why you are losing weight.”
If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.
According to Peña, with regular colorectal checkups, an individual has the best likelihood of catching the cancer early enough to have less severe treatment options.
“If we catch [the cancer] early, we may just need to cut out the affected part of the bowel without needing radiation or chemotherapy,” he said.
Peña, a Valley native, was born and raised in Edinburg.
“I was actually the first to graduate from high school in my family,” he said. “During my training, I knew I wanted to specialize and come back to the Valley and offer this service that at the time was not being offered.”
Peña graduated with honors from the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio in 2002.
“After my general surgery residency from 2002 to 2007, I completed my fellowship from 2007 to 2008,” he said.
Since then, Peña has been in practice for 11 years and currently affiliates with Doctors Hospital at Renaissance.
Peña said his favorite part of his job is simply taking care of patients in their time of need.
“Being able to help them in their darkest hour, when they’re scared, is something I’m glad to be able to do,” he said.
Dr. Alberto Peña’s office is located at 1100 E. Dove Ave., Suite 300 in McAllen. His office’s hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. His office is closed Saturdays and Sundays. Call the office at (956) 362-8170 for more information or to book an appointment.