There are a wide variety of treatment options available for treating colorectal cancer. Treatments vary depending on the nature and location of the tumor and the stage of the disease. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often treated differently. Some people have a combination of treatments.
Common treatments include:
The surgeon makes a large cut into your abdomen to remove the tumor and part of the healthy colon or rectum.
A small malignant polyp may be removed from your colon or upper rectum with a colonoscope. Some small tumors in the lower rectum can be removed without a colonoscope.
Early colon cancer may be removed with the aid of a thin, lighted tube. Three or four tiny cuts are made into your abdomen. The surgeon sees inside your abdomen with the laparoscope. The tumor and part of the healthy colon are removed. Nearby lymph nodes also may be removed. The surgeon checks the rest of your intestine and liver to see if the cancer has spread.
Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and can affect cancer cells all over the body. The side effects of chemotherapy depend mainly on the specific drugs and dosage. Some people with colorectal cancer are treated with surgery and chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy is used to treat cancer, as well as offer relief from some of the symptoms of cancer. It may be used alone or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy. Also called radiotherapy, radiation oncology uses high energy rays to kill cancer cells, affecting cells only in the treated area. Radiation therapy may also be used before or after surgery to shrink the tumor or to kill cancer cells that may have remained in the area.
Some people with colorectal cancer that has spread receive a monoclonal antibody, a type of biological therapy. The monoclonal antibodies bind to colorectal cancer cells. They interfere with cancer cell growth and the spread of cancer. People receive monoclonal antibodies intravenously at the doctor's office, hospital or clinic. Some people receive chemotherapy at the same time.