Printer Friendly

Colon Cancer; Treatment.

Surgery is often required to treat colorectal cancer. The surgical procedure used depends on where the cancer is located.

Occasionally, early cancerous changes may be limited to a portion of an otherwise non-cancerous polyp. It is sometimes possible to remove some very early colon cancers during a colonoscopy. If the cancerous polyp is in the rectum, occasionally this polyp can be removed through the anus by a simple procedure so the surgeon doesn't have to cut into the abdomen.

In right-sided cancer, the right side of the colon is removed. In left-sided cancers, the left side of the colon is removed. If a cancer is in the middle transverse colon, either the right or the left colon is removed along with the transverse colon. In rectal cancer, the rectum is removed.

If the cancer is found early, surgically removing the tumor can result in a five-year survival rate of approximately 72 to 93 percent of cases depending on the stage of the cancer.

If the cancer invades the muscles that help you control your bowels, those muscles have to be removed and a permanent colostomy created. A colostomy (stoma) is where a piece of the bowel is brought to the abdominal wall and a bag is kept over this piece to collect the stool. Occasionally, temporary stomas are created until the bowel has a chance to heal. The post-surgical use of colostomy bags is declining, however. Today, stomas do not restrict daily activities in any way.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines recommend that people with rectal cancer be referred to an enterostomal therapist (a health care professional, often a nurse, trained to help people with their colostomies) as part of their initial work-up. The enterostomal therapist can address concerns about how a colostomy might affect your daily activities.

If the cancer is not detected until a later stage after it has spread to other tissue, you may receive chemotherapy first. Intravenous 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) in combination with leucovorin is the chemotherapy regimen most often used to treat colorectal cancer.

There are also newer options that may be more convenient than standard intravenous treatment, including capecitabine (Xeloda). For cancer that has spread to distant sites such as the liver or lung, other chemotherapeutic agents in addition to 5-FU are given.

In addition to chemotherapy, radiation therapy is recommended if the cancer has become attached to an internal organ or the lining of the abdomen. In fact, you may be treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy prior to surgery for rectal cancer. This combination helps shrink the tumor, allowing the sphincter muscles (which control the rectum) to be saved.

Two drugs, bevacizumab (Avastin) and cetuximab (Erbitux), stop cancerous tumors from growing. Bevacizumab (Avastin) is used in combination with 5-FU chemotherapy and stops cancerous tumors from developing new blood vessels, eventually shrinking or killing the tumor. The drug cetuximab (Erbitux) blocks the growth factor that tells cancer cells to divide and has been approved for metastatic colon cancer. It can be given along with other chemotherapy drugs or alone if you can't tolerate other chemotherapy drugs. Cetuximab (Erbitux) is also effective in shrinking tumors and delaying tumor growth. It has also been approved for the treatment of head and neck cancers. Erbitux carries a "black-box warning" because of the risk of severe infusion reactions. Discuss this risk with your health care professional if he or she suggests Erbitux.

For those whose colorectal cancer has metastasized to a few areas in the liver, lungs or elsewhere in the abdomen, surgically removing or destroying these metastases can increase the lifespan. Liver metastases may be destroyed by cryosurgery (freezing) or radio frequency ablation (heating the tumors with microwaves).

If the cancer comes back in only one part of the body, you may need surgery again. If it has spread to several parts of the body, you may receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

References

"FDA Approves XELODA, First Oral Chemotherapy for the Treatment of Metastatic Colorectal Cancer." http://www.rocheusa.com.

"Xeloda Fact Sheet." 2005 Roche Pharmaceuticals. http://www.rocheusa.com.

"How is Cancer Found?" American Cancer Society. Revised May 2004. http:www.cancer.org. Accessed September 9, 2004.

"Can Colorectal Cancer be Prevented?" American Cancer Society. Revised May 2004. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed September 9, 2004.

Family Colorectal Cancer Registry. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Jefferson Health System. http://www.jeffersonhospital.org. Accessed September 9, 2004.

"FDA Approves Erbitux for Colorectal Cancer." FDA Newsletter. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. February 12, 2004. http://www.fda.gov. Accessed September 9, 2004.

"Overview: Colon and Rectum Cancer." American Cancer Society. Revised May 2004. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed September 9, 2004.

"Colon and Rectal Cancer." CancerNet. National Cancer Institute. National Institutes of Health. http://www.cancer.gov. Accessed September 9, 2004.

NCCN Colon and Rectal Cancer Treatment Guidelines for Patients. Version III< September 2003. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org. Accessed September 9, 2004.

"Biological Therapies for Cancer: Questions and Answers" National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health: Cancer Facts. Reviewed August 16, 2004/ http://cis.nci.nih.gov/fact/7_2.htm. Accessed September 9, 2004.

"Colon Cancer Drug Investigated" ACS News Today. American Cancer Society. Oct. 2001. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed September 9, 2004.

Veritas Medicine: Colon Cancer. Reviewed Dec. 2002. http://www.veritasmedicine.com. Accessed September 9, 2004.

Smith RA, et.al., ACS Guidelines For the Early Detection of Cancer. CA Cancer J. Clin. 2001:51:38-75

"Drug Shows Promise Against Advanced Colon Cancer" American Cancer Society. June 4, 2003. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed September 9, 2004.

"NCI-Funded Clinical Trials Show Aspirin Reduces Recurrence of Polyps" National Cancer Institute News Center. March 2003. http://www.cancer.gov. Accessed September 9, 2004.

"Cetuximab." The American Cancer Society. 2004. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed March 2006.

"Cancer Facts and Figures 2005." The American Cancer Society. 2005. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed March 2006.

"Fitting in Fitness: Simple Steps Add Up." The American Cancer Society. 2006. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed March 2006.

"Recommendations and rationale: Screening for colorectal cancer." U.S. Preventative Services Task Force." July 2002. http://www.ahrq.gov. Accessed March 2006.

"What's New in Colorectal Cancer Research and Treatment?" The American Cancer Society. March 7, 2006. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed March 9, 2006.

"Colorectal cancer: early detection." The American Cancer Society. February 2006. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed March 2006.

"New Recommendations by the American College of Gastroenterology Call for Changes in Colorectal Cancer Screening of African Americans." The American College of Gastroenterology. March 2005. http://www.acg.gi.org. Accessed March 2006.

"Colorectal Cancer Rates Higher in African Americans." The American Cancer Society. April 21, 2000. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed March 2006.

"Can colorectal polyps be found early?" The American Cancer Society. March 7, 2006. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed March 20, 2006.

"How is colorectal cancer staged?" The American Cancer Society. March 7, 2006. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed March 20, 2006.

Keywords: colostomy, stomas, colostomy bag, enterostomal therapist, polyp, chemotherapy, radiation
COPYRIGHT 2006 National Women's Health Resource Center
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:NWHRC Health Center - Colon Cancer
Date:Sep 7, 2006
Words:1170
Previous Article:Colon Cancer; Diagnosis.
Next Article:Colon Cancer; Prevention.
Topics:


Related Articles
Cancer study patients being sought.
Drug duo takes on deadly colon cancer.
Updated guidelines address care for colon and rectal ca. (New Drugs, Approaches).
Options updated for adjuvant colon cancer Tx.
Colon Cancer; Treatment.
Colon Cancer; Key Q&A.
Gene that makes colon cancer resistant to treatment identified.
New approach to fight treatment-resistant colon cancer.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters