treatment of colorectal cancer varies depending on the stage (or size) and location of the tumor. In addition,
your oncologist will consider your age and state of health in general. Today, there are several therapeutic
approaches to combat colorectal cancer: surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, when it comes to
colorectal cancer, surgery is the most effective therapy.
Surgery remains the
essential treatment for colorectal cancers. It consists of the removal of the bowel segment affected by the
disease, the lymph nodes and a small portion of healthy tissue surrounding the cancer. After the removal, the
ends of the two healthy bowels will be joined together.
Colostomy - the type of surgery performed depends on the size and
location of the tumor. In most cases, however, your surgeon will perform a colostomy. If the tumor is less
aggressive, the colostomy will be temporary; however, in advanced rectal colorectal cancers or those located
close to the anal sphincter, the colostomy is sometimes permanent. Depending on the localization and the size of
the tumor, removal of the anus can be inevitable.
If the cancer has spread to
other organs or the lymph nodes, chemotherapy combined with radiotherapy will be necessary to increase the
chance of survival and reduce the risk of recurrence.
Chemotherapy is a
systematic treatment that affects your entire organism. The drugs travel in all parts of your body to destroy
cancer cells or prevent them from multiplying. These drugs can be taken by injection, infusion or tablet form.
Unlike surgery chemotherapy can be performed to treat advanced colorectal cancer associated with metastases in
the liver, lungs, etc. Chemotherapy is often associated with radiotherapy.
Chemotherapy side effects
low blood cells
is the use of high-energy
energy X-rays or gamma rays)
cancer cells. During the procedure, your physician delivers precise doses of radiation in the area being treated, measured
according to the volume of the tumor. Unlike chemotherapy, most surrounding healthy tissues are not affected by
the therapy. Radiation therapy may be performed before or after the surgery; however, in the treatment of
colorectal cancer, it is often performed before the surgery to reduce the size of the tumor to make the surgical
intervention easier and more effective.
of radiation therapy vary from person to another. The most common discomforts you may experience after a
colorectal cancer radiation therapy include:
of the treated area
need to urinate
sensation during urination
All is not
finished after the treatment; your doctor will recommend regular monitoring to prevent or detect early relapse
or complications. Usually, at least once a year, your oncologist will do a chest x-ray to determine the response
of your body to the treatment. In addition, liver ultrasound and/or abdominal CT scan can be performed every
four months for two years following the treatment.
Blood tests will be also
necessary to monitor your white and red blood cells. These blood tests also allow your physician to detect
abnormal liver function. Your oncologist may also recommend a colonoscopy a few months after the treatment to
visualize the lining of your intestine. If there are multiple polyps, they will be removed and a new colonoscopy
will be performed in 9 to 12 months. If the new colonoscopy reveals no polyps, another colonoscopy will be
performed five years later.