Colon Cancer Treatment

In the United States, colon cancer is a very common form of cancer, found  in both men and women. It occurs either in the large intestine that is colon or  in the end of the colon called rectum. Colon cancer is a serious condition and it occurs when the cancerous cells originate in the tissues of the colon. There are no early signs of this disease. Colon cancer could occur in people with the age of over 50.  It is also found in early teen age. According to studies,  the most common reason for colon cancer is the  lack of fiber in food and high calorie diet. This means that colon cancer can by large be prevented with the intake of   fiber-rich food and low-fat food.Colon Cancer Chemotherapy Treatment

To fight colon cancer, there are many treatment options available and treatment for colon cancer includes  radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy. In surgery, the colon cancer cells are removed. This is used for the metastatic colon cancer where the tumors have been spread to other parts of the body. Intra-arterial chemotherapy is a treatment method which includes high doses of chemotherapy drugs, which directly destroys the tumor. Fractionated-dose chemotherapy treatment is a method wherein  smaller doses of drugs are given for a relatively longer period of time instead of a large dose at once. It thus also helps to reduce the side effects like vomiting and nausea.

Detection of Colon Cancer

Diagnosis of colon cancer involves, a thorough physical examination, tests that help diagnose the cancer and questions relating to the symptoms experienced by the patient. There are certain tests that  detect colon cancer, some of which are  digital rectal exam (DRE), complete blood count (CBC), fecal occult blood test (FOBT), sigmoidoscopy, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) or PET scan, CT scan, colonoscopy and double contrast barium enema. These tests help the doctors to determine whether the patient is suffering from colon cancer or not.

Treatment for Colon Cancer

  1. Colon cancer treatment  :There are three types of treatment for colon cancer i.e. surgery, radiation and chemotherapy and these are common forms of treatments. Colon cancer surgery is the oldest form of cancer treatment and plays an important role in the treatment of this condition. Treatment of cancer depends on certain factors such as the age of the patient, type of cancer, general health  and the stage of cancer. Given below  are some types of colon cancer surgery:
    1. Proctectomy: Proctectomy is a term used for rectum resection and it  involves a surgical removal of the cancerous part of the rectum. of the rectumLow anterior resection and abdominoperineal resection are the two forms of proctectomy or rectum resection. In low anterior resection, the the cancer located in the upper part of the rectum, adjoining the S-shaped sigmoid colon is surgically removed.   After  the removal of the cancerous portion at the upper part of the rectum, the sigmoid colon is  connected with the healthy tissues at the lower region of the rectum. In abdominoperineal resection (APR), the cancer located in the lower part of the rectum is removed. When removing the cancerous portion, the anal sphincter is also completely or partially removed. Sphincter is a muscle that is  located at  the closure of the anus, and is responsible for bowel control. As the sphincter which is responsible for bowel control is removed during APR, another procedure called colostomy is carried out to make another way for excretion of waste from the body.
    2. Colectomy:  Laparoscopic colectomy is a surgical treatment option for  colon cancer patients. In this surgery, a small incision above the belly or small keyhole incisions around the abdominal cavity are made. These tiny incisions provide the access points for the laparoscope and other surgical instruments. In colostomy, there may be permanent or temporary colostomy depending on the extent of colectomy surgery. There may be creation of artificial opening to eliminate waste, as a  segment of colon gets attached to the skin during surgical procedure.
    3. Radiofrequency ablation: The power of micro wave technology is used to destroy metastatic colorectal cancer cells in RF ablation or radiofrequency ablation. This treatment helps to melt away cancerous liver tumors without any discomfort or risk. Radiofrequency with ultra sound guidance is sent to liver tumors, where the heated radio frequency waves help to destroy the cancerous cells.
  2. Colon cancer chemotherapy : Colon cancer chemotherapy is an effective treatment, in which drugs are used to  eliminate the cancer cells by  obstructing their growth and reproduction. However,   patients may notice some side effects of colon cancer chemotherapy.  In this treatment, doctors may include fractionated dose chemotherapy and chemotherapy resistance testing to ensure better effectiveness of chemotherapy. Fractioned chemotherapy dose depends on the size of the tumor, stage and type of colorectal cancer. Drugs are given in small doses for over a period of several days or sometimes one large single dose may be given to the patient. Chemotherapy resistance tests are tests in which, test of tumor sample against a panel of anti cancer drugs is held. Growth of tumor cells in the presence of extreme exposure of chemotherapy drug indicates the presence of that significant drug resistance. It helps the doctors   determine the effective drugs for treating the cancer.
  3. Colon Cancer Radiation Therapy : It may be used individually  or in combination with other treatment options such as surgery and chemotherapy. With the advancement in radiation therapy it helps to reduce the side effects and provides  effective treatment. Following are some treatment methods of colon cancer radiation therapy:
    1. Therasphere: Compared to chemotherapy and radiation treatment, it is a less toxic treatment option. The tiny glass beads or microspheres are used to deliver radiation to tumors in the liver. Microspheres get trapped in the blood vessels in the liver which feeds the tumor.
    2. Tomo Therapy: This treatment is useful for patients in whom the cancer has reappeared. In this treatment, advance power of Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) with an on-board CT scanner is used. It helps to avoid causing damage to surrounding areas of the healthy tissues.
    3. HDR Brachytherapy: HDR means High Dose Rate, and is used to target radiation directly at the  colorectal cancer tumors. It reduces damage to the surrounding region of the colon and rectal tissue and also helps reduce time period of the treatment. A catheter is implanted into the colorectal cancer tumor to deliver HDR Brachytherapy. A catheter is  a thin plastic tube  used to deliver a powerful dose of radiation to the tumor. HDR Brachytherapy is mostly used to give extra boost of radiation to colorectal cancer tumor.
    4. Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): It is one of the available options for the removal of colorectal cancer tumor. It allows the placement of radioactive materials directly into the tumor site. In comparison to standard radiation therapy, IMRT spares more of the surrounding healthy tissues. IMRT helps to reduce common radiation side effects.
  4. Innovative or New Therapies: These therapies are not found in every hospital because of lack of expertise, expense and experience in colon cancer treatment.
  5. Complimentary Therapies: These therapies are in conjunction with conventional colon cancer treatments, such therapies  help  in reducing the side effects and improve the patient’s overall quality of life.