Colon Cancer Treatment
Your doctor may refer you to an Oncologist for treatment. An Oncologist is a doctor with special training in cancer and cancer treatments. Treatment for colon cancer depends on the stage of the cancer.
Surgery is the primary treatment for colon cancer. Surgery removes the cancerous mass from the body. Advanced cancers may need adjuvant therapy or additional treatments. Adjuvant therapies are used if there is a chance that cancer cells may exist outside of the surgical site or if there is a chance that the cancer might come back.
Adjuvant therapies for colon cancer include radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy uses cancer-fighting drugs to destroy cancer cells. There are several different types of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Treatments usually last for several weeks or months. Your doctor will let you know what to expect.
Stage 0 colon cancer is treated with the surgical removal of the lesion or polyp. The surgery is frequently done with the colonoscopy. Stage I colon cancer can also be treated with surgery. Stage I colon cancer may require the removal of the segment of the colon containing the cancer, after which the colon is reattached. Stage 0 and Stage I colon cancers do not require additional therapy.
Stage II colon cancer is usually treated with surgical resection of a portion of the colon. In some cases radiation therapy or chemotherapy is recommended if the cancer has a high likelihood of returning. Stage III colon cancer is first treated with surgical resection of the colon and then with chemotherapy. In some cases, radiation may also be used.
Treatment of Stage IV colon cancer depends on how extensively the cancer has metastasized. Treatment choices may also depend on the overall health of the individual. The goal of Stage IV colon cancer treatments are to prevent complications, extend life, and to improve the quality of life. Stage IV treatments are usually not curative in nature. Stage IV colon cancer surgery is usually performed to prevent colon complications, such as a blockage. In come cases a stent or tube is inserted through the cancer tumor to prevent or help manage blockages.
Stage IV colon cancer surgery may involve resection of the colon or a colostomy. A colostomy involves surgically creating an opening in the abdominal wall for the elimination of stools. This diverts the process from the anus. A colostomy may be necessary if the colon is extensively damaged.
Surgery in Stage IV also includes removing cancer metastases from other organs if possible. Metastases may also be treated with nonsurgical methods, such as freezing or heating with microwaves. Chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy may also be given.
In some cases, colon cancer returns after treatment. This is termed “recurrent colon cancer.” Recurrent colon cancer may come back near the original site or in distant organs. It most commonly returns in the liver first. Recurrent colon cancer may be treated with surgery and chemotherapy.
If the colon cancer does not return in five years after treatment, it is considered cured. Stage 0-III colon cancers are potentially curable. In most cases, Stage IV colon cancer is not curable. Your doctor will let you know what to expect.
The experience of cancer and cancer treatments can be an emotional process for people with cancer and their loved ones. It is important that you receive emotional support. Some people find comfort in their family, friends, co-workers, and place of worship. Cancer support groups are another good option. They can be a good source of information and support from people who understand what you are experiencing. Ask your doctor about cancer support group locations in your area.
Colon Cancer Treatment from SecondOpinions.com (Family Practice, Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine, Men's Health, Oncology, General Surgery)
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