Cancer of the large intestine is referred to as colon cancer, although it can also include cancer of the rectum. Before it becomes cancer, it can begin as polyps, which form along the tissue. Unfortunately, these aren't something that you would be aware of as they begin to form, unless symptoms start to indicate a growth in this area. Screening tests by your doctor should be a common practice, particularly for men over 50, although this type of disease can affect anyone.
Like other forms of cancer, there are a number of colon cancer treatment options to choose from. Some of these help to eradicate the disease, while others only treat the symptoms in the hopes of making the patient more comfortable. Whether curative or palliative, your doctor will try to offer you the treatment with the lowest risk and the highest percent for successfully curing the disease when possible.
In the early stages of the disease, colon cancer treatment options commonly include surgery. It is most effective before the tumor gets too large, or the cancerous cells have spread throughout he body. A laparoscopic colorectal cancer surgery may be used to operate with minimal tissue damage and scarring, using tiny scopes to monitor the work being performed, rather than creating a large and unnecessary entry in the tissue.
In some cases, a colostomy may be required as a short or long term treatment. This provides the patient with a way to clear waste properly without the risk of infection if the cancer makes it impossible to do so naturally. During this procedure a surgeon creates a means of disposal which collects waste outside of the body through a surgical hole in the colon. It is a temporary solution, which is sometimes used when the rectum is healing from another surgery, or when it is being prepared for surgery through additional methods of treatment.
Other surgical procedures may also be required in the mix of colon cancer treatment options, particularly if it has spread into the lymph nodes or other organs within the body. Testing before any major surgery will alert your physician to this.
A second common treatment for colon cancer is radiation therapy, which utilizes x rays with high energy with the goal of shrinking cancerous cells, or in some cases, eliminate them altogether. This is a common procedure used in combination with other treatment options, especially to deter the cancer from returning following treatment.
Stereotactic radiation therapy, brachytherapy, and external-beam radiation therapy may be used in this type of treatment.
A third type of treatment used commonly in colon cancer is chemotherapy, which uses medications to kill the cancerous cells in the body. Unlike other forms of medication, chemotherapy is entered through the bloodstream using intravenous methods. This allows the medicine to reach its destination faster and target areas where the cancer is located. Side effects of the treatment include fatigue, nausea, and hair loss in some cases, while others will see minimal negativity associated with the drugs.