If you have been diagnosed with colon cancer, your doctor may inform you about the stage of cancer which is important in the sense that it would clarify what further procedures are required. After a colonoscopy and probably a few blood tests, your doctor might be able to ascertain which stage of cancer are you suffering from. For the benefit of the reader, types of treatment are categorized into two parts:
Early-stage surgery: if the colon cancer is very small, your doctor may recommend minimally invasive surgery like:
Removing polyps during colonoscopy (Polypectomy): If the cancer is small, localised and contained within a polyp, the doctor might remove it during colonoscopy
Endoscopic Mucosal Resection: In the case of relatively larger polyps, the doctor may remove them and a small amount of inner lining of the colon using special tools.
Laparoscopic surgery: It is a minimally invasive survival procedure. In this procedure, the surgeon removes the polyps through multiple small incisions in your abdominal area, inserting small cameras and instruments which transmit pictures on a video screen. The surgeon may also take samples from nearby lymph nodes from the area where the cancer is located.
Advanced Colon Cancer Treatment: This is opted for by the surgeon or specialists if the cancer has grown in or through your colon. These procedures are categorized as follows:
Partial Colectomy: In this procedure, the surgeon removes a part of your colon which has the cancerous tumor. Generally, the surgeon is able to connect the healthy parts of the colon. This procedure can be done through laparoscopy.
Surgery to create a way for waste to leave your body: When the surgeon is able to connect healthy parts of your colon, you may need a colostomy. A colostomy involves creating an opening in your abdomen from a portion of the remaining rectum for the discharge of stool into a bag that fits securely over the opening. The colostomy in some cases is temporary while in others might be permanent.
Lymph node removal: Nearby lymph nodes are also removed during surgery in some cases to check for cancer.
Other procedures that are recommended by doctors are:
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. In the case of Colon Cancer, chemotherapy is generally adopted after the surgery, if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. This way chemotherapy reduces the chances of cancer recurrence. Chemotherapy may also be used before surgery so that a large cancer is reduced to a smaller size that is manageable to be removed by the follow-up surgery. Sometimes, chemotherapy is also combined with radiation therapy
Radiation Therapy: Uses powerful radiations, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. It might also be used to shrink the size of cancer before surgery. This procedure might also be used to relieve symptoms like pain.
Targeted Drug Delivery: Focuses on specific abnormalities within the cancerous cells. In such procedures, the drugs act upon the abnormalities that ultimately lead to the death of cancer cells. This is usually combined with chemotherapy. Targeted Drug delivery is specifically reserved for advanced cancer treatment.
Immunotherapy: Uses the body's immune system to treat cancer. The cancer cells produce proteins that block the immune system from recognizing them as abnormal. Immunotherapy interferes with this very process. This is reserved for advanced colon cancer only.
Supportive (Palliative) care: Is specialized medical care which helps in providing relief from pain and other symptoms of serious illness. In this procedure, a team of doctors, nurses and other specially trained professionals are involved. To complement your ongoing care, an extra layer of support of your family and other doctors is provided. These teams aim to improve the quality of life for people with cancer and their families. Generally, this process is offered alongside curative or other treatments that you might be undergoing. This procedure has shown results and people undergoing such care tend to live happily and longer.