There are many options for colon cancer treatment when a person is diagnosed with the disease. Treatment depends on how far the disease has progressed and with guidance from the doctor one can decide on the most suitable option. There are several ways to treat colon cancer and these are as follows:
• Resection surgery also known as hemicolectomy
• Radiation therapy
• Targeted therapies
The most common colon cancer treatment is a bowel surgery. The surgeon makes a large incision in the wall of the abdomen to remove the diseased section of the colon or the rectum along with the lymph nodes and also a part of the healthy colon. The lymph nodes are the place where the cancer cells gather and by removing them there is a less chance of the cancer recurring. In this form of resection surgery, the surgeon reattaches the healthy ends of the colon after removing the diseased section. He aims at restoring normal bowel function for the patient with this procedure.
In some cases where the diseased section of the colon is rather large then it may not be possible for the surgeon to reattach the healthy ends. This calls for a colostomy in which an opening is created in the abdomen through which a part of the intestine is inserted. An external bag is attached to collect the waste. In some cases of colon cancer treatment the colostomy may be temporary and in others it may be a permanent option.
Some patients of colon cancer are treated through chemotherapy in which treatment is given through different medications. It can be administered either intravenously or orally through pills. Normally a patient has to be admitted to hospital for a couple of days for chemotherapy treatment. The treatment has to be repeated after some time depending on the type of chemotherapy given and the type of cancer. A patient may suffer severe side effects with this treatment.
Colon Cancer Treatment with Radiation
Radiation is another form of colon cancer treatment and it can be used along with other treatments or by itself. In this form of therapy, cancer cells are killed by high energy radioactivity in which the beams are more concentrated and they target the affected area. Radiation therapy is generally used along with other forms of colon cancer treatment such as surgery or chemotherapy to make these more effective.
Colon cancer treatment through targeted therapies is another option for patients. These could include
• Growth factor receptor blockers
• Angiogenesis inhibitors
• Apoptosis-inducing medications
• Monoclonal antibodies
• Cancer vaccines
In the first method the growth factor in the cancer cells are blocked so that they are not able to form vessels for their own blood supply. This prevents the tumor from growing. In apoptosis, the cancer cells are targeted and programmed to die. In general through this form of therapy, damaged cells are targeted to prevent the changes which make them cancerous.
Colon cancer treatment may also depend on the different stages of the cancer. Most forms of colon cancer treatment have severe side effects and the patient should be made aware of these.