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Colon Cancer Treatment

Posted by on July 3, 2011

If you have been diagnosed with colon cancer, your doctor will develop a treatment plan based on the type and stage of the cancer as well as your overall health conditions. For colorectal cancer, treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapies such as monoclonal antibodies. Doctors may use only one or a combination of these treatments.

If your cancer is in the earliest stages, surgery may be the only treatment you need. If your cancer is more advanced, you may need surgery plus chemotherapy and/ or radiation therapy. If you are being treated at a large cancer facility, you may have other treatment options, such as monoclonal antibodies or cancer vaccine treatment.

Surgery

Colon surgery is the most common treatment for colorectal cancer. Surgery is used to cure early stage of cancer by completely remove the tumor from the colon tissues. Colon cancer surgery may be used alone or in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. The type of colon surgery you receive will depend on the size and location of the tumor. There are two different types of colon surgery: Colectomy and Colostomy

  • Colectomy: This is the most common colon cancer surgery. The surgeon makes an incision in the lower abdomen and the diseased portion of the colon is cut out. The ends of the colon are joined together and closed (anastomosis) using stitches or staples. The remaining colon takes over the function of the missing colon.
  • Colostomy: In this procedure, instead of reconnecting the ends of colon, the surgeon will create an opening in abdomen to allow the intestinal wastes pass from the colon to the outside of abdomen through a stoma.A colostomy may either temporary or permanent. A temporary colostomy may be created to allow the colon heals until it can be rejoined after treatment.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses anti-cancer medicines (chemotherapy drugs) to destroy the cancer cells or stop them from growing. It can either be given orally as a pill or by injection.

How do you receive chemotherapy treatment will depend on the type of medication your doctor feels is best to treat your colon cancer.

While chemotherapy works to treat cancer cells but it also may damage healthy cells and cause side effects. However these are temporally and will repair themselves once the treatment stopped.

Some of the chemotherapy side effects you may experience include diarrhea, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, mouth soreness, loss of appetite, and bleeding.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, protons, neutron, and other sources to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is often used in combination with other treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy to enhance the effectiveness of treatment. Therapy is usually given five days a week over several weeks. In some cases, it may even be given twice a day. The first or second session will take a little longer, as the radiation therapy team care plans your treatment.

Side effects that may be experienced after radiation therapy include diarrhea, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. If the therapy also involves the rectum, you may have skin tenderness and feel pain in the area around your anus.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of biological therapy that works by targeting specific molecules or proteins that play a role in cancer cell growth. Targeted therapies interfere with cancer cell growth.

Targeted therapy can be used as a substitute for, or in combination with other treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Examples of targeted therapies include angiogenesis inhibitors, apoptosis-inducing drugs, growth factor receptor blockers, monoclonal antibodies and cancer vaccines.

Targeted therapies may cause side effects because it blocks steps or cellular chemical changes specific to the development of cancer. The side effects of targeted therapy vary depending on how much of the medication is given.

Some side effects of targeted therapy may include rash, fever, vomiting, bleeding, diarrhea, abdominal pain, immune system changes or breathing problems. Side effects usually become milder after the first treatment.