Colon cancer is cancer that originates in the colon. Treatment procedures for the main stages of colon cancer will depend on the precise location of cancer, the stage at which the cancer is in, and the overall health conditions and concerns of the patient. The usual treatment is surgery, but chemotherapy and radiation are also often recommended post-cancer to further eradicate any remaining cancerous cells.
Different treatments for the main stages of colon cancer include the following:
1. Early stage colon cancer
When you have been detected with early-stage colon cancer the tumor is typically small in size and the doctor could recommend a minimally-invasive procedure for surgery.
2. Localized colon cancer
When cancer is localized, polypectomy may be done to remove polyps during a colonoscopy. This is the best method for treating a small and localized tumor inside a polyp because it can be removed almost totally. Large polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy where special tools are used for the removal and the method is called endoscopic mucosal resection.Laparoscopic surgery is minimally-invasive and perfect for polyps that cannot be taken out through a colonoscopy. In this, the surgeon will do the operation by making small incisions in the abdominal wall and placing instruments having cameras to display the colon through a video monitor.
2. Advanced colon cancer
When cancer is more advanced, different treatment options are advised which can be the following:
- A partial colectomy is done when cancer has grown more and moved beyond the colon. During this process, the doctor will take out a part of the colon containing cancer cells. He can usually reconnect the colon’s healthy portions through laparoscopy. If this is not possible by the surgeon, he may do an ostomy where an opening is made in the abdominal wall to eliminate stool into a bag securely fitted over this opening. This may be short-term to help the rectum or colon recover after the surgery.
- Lymph node removal has to be done during surgery and these are then tested further for cancerous cells.
- When cancer has progressed substantially and the overall health is not very good, the doctor can suggest surgery for relieving a blockage in the colon to alleviate the symptoms. This is mainly done to relieve the symptoms and not to cure cancer.
- When cancer has spread to the lungs or liver but the overall health is not very poor, the doctor can recommend surgery for removing the cancerous body part. Before and after this procedure, chemotherapy is done.
- Chemotherapy will destroy all cancer cells and is given when colon cancer spreads to the lymph nodes or if the tumor is very large.
- Radiation is done by using strong energy sources like X-rays and protons for killing cancerous cells. You can also undergo radiation to shrink the tumor first before surgery is done.
- Targeted therapy will also work on correcting specific abnormalities inside cancer cells. These are typically given in combination with chemotherapy. They work best in advanced colon cancer cases.
- Immunotherapy refers to a treatment that uses the body’s own immune system for fighting cancer. It is also best suited for advanced colon cancer and the doctor will probably need to have the cancer cells tested first to find out if they will respond to this therapy at all.
- Palliative care refers to specialized medical care focusing on providing patients relief from pains and symptoms of serious ailments. So, there is a team of doctors, nurses and trained professionals who will work together with the patient for their relief and well being. They will extend an additional layer of support that will complement the ongoing treatments.