4 Treatment Options for Colon Cancer

Colon cancer occurs when cancerous cells are formed in the tissues of the colon. Also known as colorectal cancer, there are often no symptoms in the early stage of the condition but can be detected with colon cancer screening. As the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the country, colon cancer is the third most common cancer in both women and men. In the year 2016, the percentage of adults between 50 to 75 years, who were up-to-date for colon cancer screening, increased from 66.2% to 67.3% amounting to an additional 3.3 million adults screened for colon cancer.

The treatment options for colon cancer depend on numerous factors such as the type of cancer, stage, the overall health of the patient, to name a few. Here are 4 treatment options for colon cancer:

1. Surgery
One of the most common treatment options is surgery where the cancer is removed in various ways. These are:

  • Resection of the colon with anastomosis: When the cancer is large, the doctor performs a partial colectomy wherein the cancer is removed along with healthy tissues. Later, the doctor performs an anastomosis, which is sewing the parts of the healthy tissues. The lymph nodes near the colon are removed and examined to check if cancer is present in those parts or not.  
  • Local excision: When cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the doctor may remove the cancerous cells using a cutting tool that is inserted through the rectum to cut cancer. This procedure is known as a local excision. In case the cancer is found in a polyp, which is a small bulging area of a tissue, the procedure is known as polypectomy.
  • Resection of the colon with colostomy: In case the doctor is unable to sew the two ends of the colon back together, the procedure of colostomy is used to make a stoma or an opening on the outside of the body. This helps the waste to pass through. Some of the time, the colostomy is needed only until the lower colon has healed completely. However, the colostomy may be permanent when the doctor needs to remove the entire lower colon.

2. Targeted therapy
This a cancer treatment that uses medications to identify specific cancerous cells and attack them, without harming the healthy cells in the body. Some of the types of targeted therapies used as a part of cancer treatment are:

  • Monoclonal antibodies
  • Angiogenesis inhibitorsa

3. Chemotherapy
In this treatment, medications are used to stop the cancer cells to grow in the body. This is done either by stopping them from multiplying or killing them. The patient can be given two types of chemotherapy and these are:

  • Regional chemotherapy: When the chemotherapy is placed right into an organ, cerebrospinal fluid or a body cavity, the medications primarily affect the body parts affected by cancer. The procedure reduces the side effects of the treatment by limiting the amount of medications reaching the rest of the body.
  • Systematic chemotherapy: Medications are injected through a vein in the body, it enters the bloodstream directly to reach the cancerous cells throughout the body. This helps in reducing the risk of colon cancer by spreading the medications in the entire body.

4. Cryosurgery
Another colon cancer treatment option is cryosurgery. Also known cryotherapy, the procedure destroys abnormal tissues in the body with the help of an instrument that freezes tissue.

It is highly advisable to talk to the doctor regarding various treatment options to create a health plan and the treatment type to go ahead with.