Get answers to your GI cancer surgery questions.
Colorectal cancer; Cancer - colon; Rectal cancer; Cancer - rectum; Adenocarcinoma - colon; Colon - adenocarcinoma
Treatment depends partly on the stage of the cancer. In general, treatments may include:
Stage 0 colon cancer may be treated by removing the cancer cells, often during a colonoscopy. For stages I, II, and III cancer, more extensive surgery is needed to remove the part of the colon that is cancerous. (See: Colon resection)
There is some debate as to whether patients with stage II colon cancer should receive chemotherapy after surgery. You should discuss this with your oncologist.
Almost all patients with stage III colon cancer should receive chemotherapy after surgery for approximately 6 - 8 months. The chemotherapy drug 5-fluorouracil has been shown to increase the chance of a cure in certain patients.
Chemotherapy is also used to improve symptoms and prolong survival in patients with stage IV colon cancer.
You may receive just one type, or a combination of these drugs.
Although radiation therapy is occasionally used in patients with colon cancer, it is usually used in combination with chemotherapy for patients with stage III rectal cancer.
For patients with stage IV disease that has spread to the liver, various treatments directed specifically at the liver can be used. This may include:
For additional resources and information, see: Colon cancer support groups.
Colon cancer is, in many cases, a treatable disease if it is caught early.
How well you do depends on many things, including the stage of the cancer. In general, when they are treated at an early stage, many patients survive at least 5 years after their diagnosis. (This is called the 5-year survival rate.)
If the colon cancer does not come back (recur) within 5 years, it is considered cured. Stage I, II, and III cancers are considered potentially curable. In most cases, stage IV cancer is not considered curable, although there are exceptions.
Call your health care provider if you have:
Burt RW, Barthel JS, Dunn KB, et al. NCCN clinical practice guidelines in oncology. Colorectal cancer screening. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2010;8:8-61.
Cunningham D, Atkin W, Lenz HJ, Lynch HT, Minsky B, Nordlinger B, et al. Colorectal cancer. Lancet. 2010;375:1030-1047.
Smith RA, Cokkinides V, Brooks D, Saslow D, Brawley OW. Cancer screening in the United States, 2010: a review of current American Cancer Society guidelines and issues in cancer screening. CA Cancer J Clin. 2010;60:99-119.
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