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Dr. Praveen Kammar

MS, MRCS, MCH

Surgical Oncologist

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What is the treatment for Colorectal Cancer

treatment options for colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that starts spreading from the colon and rectal. The process is abnormal growths that can be found in the rectal and colon area.

They start lining the inner area of the colon and rectal.  Cancer in the colon can have a lot of symptoms. Like,

  • Change in bowel movement. It can be constipation or diarrhoea. Your body will go through massive dehydration. You can also notice the change in the consistency, frequency, size, and shape of your stool.
  • You can notice blood in your stool (poop).  you can also notice a reddish-brown colour or red spots on your stool. The colour can be different in case of various stages.
  • You will have a digestive problem as a symptom. Frequent gas or acidity will be your regular disorder. You can also feel several pains or cramps in your stomach.
  • You will have a feeling that your bowel is not clear.
  • You will notice weakness and fatigue.
  • Lose weight unexpectedly and massively.

Treatment for Different Stages of Colorectal Cancer

risk factors of colon cancer

The treatment of colorectal cancer differs because of various stages.

Stage 0 : 

Here the cancer is just confined to the mucosal layer. Removal by endoscopy may be feasible in these cases.

Depending on the tumour characteristics endoscopic treatment may alone be enough to achieve cure in some cases while others will require formal surgery. Most of these early-stage cancers present as polyps.

Stage 1 :

In this stage, the cancer is confined to the colon wall but not outside of the colon. 

Some of the stage 1 cancers may be amenable for removal by endoscopy. But a majority of them require surgery. 

Stage 0 and stage 1 cancers do not require chemotherapy or radiation.

Stage 2 :

In this stage cancer has spread outside of the colon muscle layer but not in the lymph nodes.

Cancers in the colon and upper rectum require direct surgery for this stage. Cancers in the mid and lower rectum require radiation or chemoradiation followed by surgery. Some stage 2 cancers need additional chemotherapy after surgery.

Stage 3 :

In this stage, cancer spreads in the lymph nodes but not in the whole body. The treatment is similar to stage 2.

Stage 4 :

In this stage, the cancerous cell has spread into the different organs of the body. This is the last stage of cancer.

The treatment depends on the different organs that the cells spread on. When the disease has spread only to the liver or lungs, there is an option for aggressive treatment to achieve a cure. This involves a combination of radical surgery and chemotherapy.

Similarly, when cancer spreads to limited areas of the peritoneum, aggressive cytoreductive surgery may be beneficial. Stage 4 colorectal cancer comprises a wide spectrum of disease spread. Hence the treatment decisions vary from patient to patient.

When surgical options are not suitable, most of the items stage 4 colorectal is treated by systemic chemotherapy and targeted therapy. Newer options of PIPAC and IP port chemotherapy also provide added options of treatment.

 

Who Treats Colorectal Cancer

  • Medical oncologist :

Medical oncologists treat colorectal cancer with medicines or targeted therapy. They can also use chemotherapy for treating cancer.

Advanced stages of colorectal cancers need systemic treatment to achieve cure and control the disease from coming back. In stage 4 colorectal cancer, medical oncologists play a major role in disease control and improving patient’s quality of life.

  • Radiation Oncologist :

A Radiation Oncologist uses radiotherapy and chemoradiation for treating colorectal cancer.

While the role of radiation is limited at present in case of colonic cancers, most of the locally advanced rectal cancers need radiation before surgery to reduce the risk of the disease recurring in the operated area.

  • Colorectal Surgeon/ Surgical oncologist :

Colorectal Surgeons are those who perform surgery to treat colon cancer or rectal cancer.

The surgery can be traditional open surgery or the more advanced laparoscopic or robotic surgery. 

With the evolution of science now we know that even stage 4 colorectal cancers that have spread to the liver, can be cured by aggressive surgery in selected patients.

Similarly, colorectal cancers that have spread to the peritoneum can also be treated aggressively by cytoreductive surgery. However, right patient selection is necessary in this aspect.

  • Gastroenterologist :

A doctor who performs an endoscopy and takes a biopsy to confirm the presence of the cancer.

Some very early stage colorectal cancers ( stage 0 and 1) can be successfully treated by expert gastroenterologists using endoscopic removal.

 

Conclusion

I hope we helped you to understand the treatment of colorectal cancer better. Please understand those properly and choose the treatment you want for your colorectal cancer.

Talk to your doctors to know about the side effects. And also consult about your allergies and problems according to the medicines. Make sure you know clearly about everything your body is going to face. Good luck.

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