Treatment of Colorectal Cancer

Updated at: Jun 17, 2016
Treatment of Colorectal Cancer

The colon cancers, which have not spread to distant sites; surgery is usually the primary or first treatment. Chemotherapy may also be used for the treatment.

Himanshu Sharma
CancerWritten by: Himanshu SharmaPublished at: Apr 17, 2013

Treatment of Colorectal Cancer

There are stages involved in the treatment for colorectal cancer. The colon cancers, which have not spread to distant sites; surgery is usually the primary or first treatment then additionally chemotherapy may also be used. Most of this additional treatment is given for about 6 months.

Colorectal Cancer treatment Stage 1:

In this stage, it is found that the cancer cells have not grown beyond the inner lining of the colon, and therefore, only a surgery would suffice to take out the cancer. This is usually done in most cases, where polyps are removed or local excision is done through a colonoscope. Hence, if the cancer is big, a part of the colon is removed and  if the polyps are only few in numbers, they are removed during colonoscopy itself.

Stage 2:

Most of these cancers can be now found to have grown through the wall of the colon and extend into nearby tissue; they have not yet gone as far as the lymph nodes. Even when surgery is the only treatment which is needed, the doctor may recommend adjuvant chemotherapy, if he or she finds that your cancer has a higher risk of coming back because of certain factors.

These factors are:

  • Abnormal look of the cancer when viewed under a microscope.
  • The cancer shows microsatellite instability (MSI).
  • The cancer has grown into the nearby organs.
  • The surgeon did not remove at least 12 lymph nodes.
  • In case, if the cancer is found in or near the margin of the surgical specimen.
  • The cancer has obstructed the colon.
  • The cancer caused a hole in the wall of the colon.

Stage 3:

By this stage the cancer has successfully spread to the nearby lymph nodes, however, it has not yet spread to other parts of the body.

For this stage, surgery or partial colectomy is followed by adjuvant chemo. Your doctors may also advise radiation therapy, if your surgeon thinks some cancer cells might have been left behind after surgery.

For those people, who aren’t healthy enough for a surgical process, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy may be the options.

Stage 4:

This is the stage where the cancer has now spread from the colon to distant organs and tissues, such as the liver, lungs, peritoneum, or ovaries.

This is the stage, where surgeries are unable to cure the cancer here. It may only help a patient if only a few small areas of cancer spread (metastases) are present in the liver or lungs and they can be completely removed along with the colon cancer. Surgery is good as it helps to cure the cancer, thus, helping one to lead a better life. Chemo is typically given at this stage, before and/or after surgery.

The chemotherapy is given, when the metastases cannot be surgically removed, because they are too large or there are too many of them. It is given at first to shrink the tumor, so that surgery is possible. Chemo would then be given again after surgery.

At times, the cancer becomes too widespread to be cured with a surgery, and this is when operations such as a colectomy or diverting colostomy come into play in some cases.



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