Getting Colorectal Cancer Treated
We use cutting-edge methods and research to tailor our care to each individual patient. Surgeons now use minimally invasive techniques to treat colorectal cancer, which shortens hospital stays and improves patients' quality of life.
Colorectal cancer treatment options include but are not limited to the following methods.
Surgery is the standard treatment for colorectal cancer if it has not spread. Surgeons who have extensive experience with colorectal cancer operations have the best success rates.
The sort of surgery utilized for a tumor depends on its stage and location.
- A colonoscope, a long tube with a camera at one end, is inserted into the rectum and guided to the polyp to remove it. Tiny devices or a wire loop are used for the removal of the polyp. When colon cancer is detected at an early stage, a polypectomy is the treatment of choice.
- To do an endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) or endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD): The use of an EMR or ESD may be considered when a polyp is too large to be eliminated with conventional polypectomy. Your doctor will use tiny instruments sent into the colon using a colonoscope to do extensive surgery on your bowels. During this procedure, the polyp and some adjacent tissue will be excised. This cutting-edge endoscopic therapy may occasionally eliminate the need for major surgery.
- When treating colon cancer, a colectomy is performed to remove the affected area of the colon, as well as some healthy tissue and any lymph nodes in the vicinity.
- The lymph nodes will be looked at under a microscope to check for cancer spread. The surgeon next reattaches the remaining sections of the colon. This operation is also known as a hemicolectomy or partial colectomy. Most of the time, it just requires a simple outpatient surgery (see below).
- Your surgeon will remove a section of your rectum and lymph nodes from the tissue around it if cancer is discovered there. In many cases, the anus may be used to join the colon to the remnant rectum. When you get sphincter preservation surgery, you may continue to have full control over your bowel movements.
- Pelvic exenteration occurs when a rectal cancer spreads to surrounding pelvic tissues. If this is the case, surgical removal of the tumor and any nearby structures is essential. During a pelvic exenteration, any malignant tissues, including the rectum, a section of the colon, the reproductive organs, or the bladder, are surgically removed. After these structures have been eliminated, your surgical team will begin reconstructive procedures. Potentially, you'll need to develop other routes for waste to leave your body. An experienced surgeon is required for the life-altering procedure known as a pelvic exenteration.
- In minimally invasive robotic or laparoscopic surgery, a small camera and surgical tools are introduced via tiny incisions in the abdomen. After setting up high-definition video imaging, including 3D, the surgeon may proceed with the operation. The doctors at MD Anderson are among the best in the world when it comes to doing robotic colorectal cancer surgery using minimally invasive techniques.
- Minimally invasive surgery results in a quicker recovery time and less pain for the patient. Your surgeon will evaluate your condition and decide between open surgery and less invasive methods like robotic or laparoscopic surgery.
- Surgeons who have extensive experience with colorectal cancer operations have the best success rates. Surgeons that specialize in colorectal cancer surgery are among the best in their fields, both in the United States and worldwide.
Combined neoadjuvant and adjuvant therapy
Colorectal cancer may be treated with surgery alone, surgery with chemotherapy, or surgery plus chemotherapy and radiation. It is possible to treat the following disorders using chemotherapy or radiation therapy:
- Neoadjuvant therapy describes such an approach.
- After surgery, patients often get adjuvant therapy.
Neoadjuvant treatment aims to shrink the tumor before surgery so that the patient has a better chance of survival and a speedier recovery. Adjuvant therapy is used after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells and prevent the disease from returning.
Chemotherapy is a method of treating cancer that makes use of potent drugs to eradicate cancer cells or significantly halt their growth. Because of its systemic nature, this treatment is effective against cancer cells wherever they may be located in the body.
The chemotherapy drugs may be administered orally (as pills) or intravenously (as injections) (injected into a vein).
Cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy may see improvement in:
- Get the cancer size down before operating on it.
- Keep your cancer-free status alive after treatment has ended.
- A longer life span is possible even when surgical options are limited.
The Use of Radiation In Treatment
Oncology radiation therapy works by directing beams of high-energy photons to tumor cells. Innovative radiation treatments include:
- 3-D radiation therapy: The tumor is targeted by shape, and many radiation beams are sent in that direction.
- Adjusting the radiation's intensity based on each patient's tumor type helps keep radiation doses low enough to save healthy tissue (IMRT).
- To effectively treat cancer while sparing surrounding healthy tissue, protons are used in proton therapy.
- In brachytherapy, tiny radioactive seeds are placed within the body in close proximity to the tumor.
- Cancer patients who have surgery to remove a tumor may benefit from intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), a kind of radiation therapy administered while the tumor is still in its exposed surgical location. The radiation environment is contained, or healthy organs and tissues are removed.
To combat cancer, immunotherapy harnesses the immune system. White blood cells (T cells), which are a component of the immune system and may identify and destroy cancer cells, can be boosted by specially formulated drugs.
In the first phases of immunotherapy, drugs were used to stimulate the body's immune system to attack cancer cells. T cells have had their ability to target cancer cells severely hampered by a newly identified group of proteins that act as a brake, or checkpoint, on their surface.
Tests In Humans
To effectively combat cancer, clinical trials are essential. To better help in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer, patients may volunteer for these studies.
However, not all patients are acceptable for inclusion in clinical trials for access to experimental medications or treatments.
Inquire about participating in a colorectal clinical trial with your doctor.