The type of treatment for your colorectal cancer, doctor recommends will depend largely in the stage of your cancer. The three primary treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
Stage 0 colon cancer may be treated by removing the cancer cells. For stage I, II, and II cancer, more extensive surgery is needed to remove the part of the colon that is cancerous. There’s some debate as to whether patients with stage II colon cancer should receive chemotherapy after surgery. You should discuss this with your oncologist.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be used to destroy cancer cells after surgery, to control tumor growth or to relieve symptoms of colon cancer. Your doctor may recommend chemotherapy if your cancer has spread beyond the wall of the colon or if your cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
Almost all patients with stage III colon cancer should receive chemotherapy after surgery for approximately 6 – 8 months. The chemotherapy drug 5-fluorouracil has been shown to increase the chance of a cure in certain patients.
Radiation therapy is rarely used in early-stage colon cancer, but is a routine part of treating rectal cancer, especially if the cancer has penetrated through the wall of the rectum or traveled to nearby lymph nodes. Radiation therapy, usually combined with chemotherapy, may be used after surgery to reduce the risk that the cancer may recur in the area of the rectum where it began.
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