Surgery for early-stage colon cancer

colorectal cancer treatments

Surgery for more advanced colon cancer

How treatable is colon cancer?

How long do you live after being diagnosed with colon cancer?

What is the most common treatment for colon cancer?

How serious is colon cancer?

 

Treatment

Which treatments are most likely to help you depends on your particular situation, including the location of your cancer, its stage and your other health concerns. Treatment for colon cancer usually involves surgery to remove the cancer. Other treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, might also be recommended.

Surgery for early-stage colon cancer

If your colon cancer is very small, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive approach to surgery, such as:

  • Removing polyps during a colonoscopy (polypectomy). If your cancer is small, localized, completely contained within a polyp and in a very early stage, your doctor may be able to remove it completely during a colonoscopy.
  • Endoscopic mucosal resection. Larger polyps might be removed during colonoscopy using special tools to remove the polyp and a small amount of the inner lining of the colon in a procedure called an endoscopic mucosal resection.
  • Minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopic surgery). Polyps that can't be removed during a colonoscopy may be removed using laparoscopic surgery. In this procedure, your surgeon performs the operation through several small incisions in your abdominal wall, inserting instruments with attached cameras that display your colon on a video monitor. The surgeon may also take samples from lymph nodes in the area where the cancer is located.

 

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Surgery for more advanced colon cancer

If the cancer has grown into or through your colon, your surgeon may recommend:

Partial colectomy. During this procedure, the surgeon removes the part of your colon that contains the cancer, along with a margin of normal tissue on either side of the cancer. Your surgeon is often able to reconnect the healthy portions of your colon or rectum. This procedure can commonly be done by a minimally invasive approach (laparoscopy).

Surgery for advanced cancer

If your cancer is very advanced or your overall health very poor, your surgeon may recommend an operation to relieve a blockage of your colon or other conditions in order to improve your symptoms. This surgery isn't done to cure cancer, but instead to relieve signs and symptoms, such as a blockage, bleeding or pain.

In specific cases where the cancer has spread only to the liver or lung but your overall health is otherwise good, your doctor may recommend surgery or other localized treatments to remove the cancer. Chemotherapy may be used before or after this type of procedure. This approach provides a chance to be free of cancer over the long term.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy for colon cancer is usually given after surgery if the cancer is larger or has spread to the lymph nodes. In this way, chemotherapy may kill any cancer cells that remain in the body and help reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.

Chemotherapy might also be used before an operation to shrink a large cancer so that it's easier to remove with surgery.

Chemotherapy can also be used to relieve symptoms of colon cancer that can't be removed with surgery or that has spread to other areas of the body. Sometimes it's combined with radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses powerful energy sources, such as X-rays and protons, to kill cancer cells. It might be used to shrink a large cancer before an operation so that it can be removed more easily.

When surgery isn't an option, radiation therapy might be used to relieve symptoms, such as pain. Sometimes radiation is combined with chemotherapy.

Targeted drug therapy

Targeted drug treatments focus on specific abnormalities present within cancer cells. By blocking these abnormalities, targeted drug treatments can cause cancer cells to die.

Targeted drugs are usually combined with chemotherapy. Targeted drugs are typically reserved for people with advanced colon cancer.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a drug treatment that uses your immune system to fight cancer. Your body's disease-fighting immune system may not attack your cancer because the cancer cells produce proteins that blind the immune system cells from recognizing the cancer cells. Immunotherapy works by interfering with that process.

Immunotherapy is usually reserved for advanced colon cancer. Your doctor might have your cancer cells tested to see if they're likely to respond to this treatment.

Supportive (palliative) care

Palliative care is specialized medical care that focuses on providing relief from pain and other symptoms of a serious illness. Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specially trained professionals that work with you, your family and your other doctors to provide an extra layer of support that complements your ongoing care.

Palliative care teams aim to improve the quality of life for people with cancer and their families. This form of care is offered alongside curative or other treatments you may be receiving.

When palliative care is used along with all of the other appropriate treatments, people with cancer may feel better and live longer.

How treatable is colon cancer?

Overall, colorectal cancer is highly preventable, and if detected early, it's also one of the most curable types of cancer. Up to 85% of colorectal cancers could be prevented or successfully treated if everyone who is eligible for a colonoscopy got screened. Surgery is the primary form of treatment and results in cure in approximately 50% of the patients.

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How long do you live after being diagnosed with colon cancer?

Stage IV colon cancer has a relative 5-year survival rate of about 14%. This means that about 14% of people with stage IV colon cancer are likely to still be alive 5 years after they are diagnosed if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific stage of colon or rectal cancer is 80%, it means that people who have that cancer are, on average, about 80% as likely as people who don't have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.

What is the most common treatment for colon cancer?

Treatment for colon cancer usually involves surgery to remove the cancer. Other treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, might also be recommended. Treatment options and recommendations depend on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, possible side effects, and the patient’s preferences and overall health. Surgery is the removal of the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue during an operation. It is often called surgical resection. This is the most common treatment for colorectal cancer. Part of the healthy colon or rectum and nearby lymph nodes will also be removed. While both general surgeons and specialists may perform colorectal surgery, many people talk with specialists who have additional training and experience in colorectal surgery. A surgical oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer using surgery.

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How serious is colon cancer?

colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. About one-third of all people with colon cancer and cancer in the rectum die from the disease within five years of diagnosis. If you have colon or rectal cancer, the doctor will want to find out how far it has spread. This is called staging. Your doctor will want to find out the stage of your cancer to help decide what type of treatment is best for you.

The stage describes the growth or spread of the cancer through the layers of the wall of the colon or rectum. It also tells if the cancer has spread to nearby organs or to organs farther away.

Your cancer can be stage 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4. The lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number, like stage 4, means a more serious cancer that has spread far from the colon or rectum. Be sure to ask the doctor about your cancer stage and what it means for you.

 

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10 common questions about colorectal cancer treatments

1How long is chemotherapy for colon cancer?
Doctors give chemo in cycles, with each treatment followed by a rest period to give the body time to recover. Chemotherapy cycles generally last about 2 to 4 weeks. People usually get at least several cycles of treatment
2What is the survival rate of colorectal cancer?
The 5-year survival rate for people with colorectal cancer is 65%. However, survival rates for colorectal cancer can vary based on a variety of factors, particularly the stage. The 5-year survival rate of people with localized stage colorectal cancer is 90%. About 39% of patients are diagnosed at this early stage.
3Is colon cancer curable at Stage 3?
Stage III adenocarcinoma of the colon is a common and curable cancer. Depending on the features of the cancer, 40-50% of patients are cured without evidence of cancer recurrence following treatment with surgery alone. ... These cancer cells cannot be detected with any currently available tests
4Does colon cancer spread quickly?
The new research focused exclusively on metastatic colon cancer. ... But if a tumor develops into a carcinoma with the ability to metastasize, it will progress to metastasis quickly. This transformation occurs within about two years, before another mutation can develop
5Where is the first place colon cancer spreads?
Colon cancer most often spreads to the liver, but it can also spread to other places like the lungs, brain, peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), or to distant lymph nodes
6Is colon cancer a death sentence?
Myth 6: If I have colon cancer, it means I'm dying. The myth that colorectal cancer is a death sentence is due partly to the fact that at the time of diagnosis, 20-25% patients have metastatic disease, which means the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body
7Are bananas good for your colon?
Bananas May Improve Digestive Health Dietary fiber has been linked to many health benefits, including improved digestion. A medium-sized banana has about 3 grams of fiber, making bananas a fairly good fiber source (10). ... Pectin: Decreases as the banana ripens. Resistant starch: Found in unripe bananas
8How long do you live after being diagnosed with colon cancer?
This means that about 14% of people with stage IV colon cancer are likely to still be alive 5 years after they are diagnosed. But you're not a number. No one, including your doctor, can tell you exactly how long you'll live
9What is colon cancer pain like?
Unexplained, persistent nausea or vomiting. Unexplained weight loss. Change in frequency or character of stool (bowel movements) ... Rectal pain: Pain rarely occurs with colon cancer and usually indicates a bulky tumor in the rectum that may invade surrounding tissue after moving through the colon's submucosa.
10Where does colon cancer hurt?
Colon cancer occurs in the large intestine, which can affect bowel habits. This change in bowel habits can lead to cramping, bloating and abdominal pain and could be an indicator of colon cancer

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