Learn About Treatment Options for Colorectal Cancer
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Colorectal cancer includes malignant or cancerous tumors of the colon and/or the rectum.
Approximately 145,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year.
The primary treatment for cancers of the colon is surgery and for cancers of the rectum, typically a combination of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery is employed.
- Depending on the location and stage of your cancer, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to reduce the chance of the cancer coming back after surgery.
- For rectal cancer, radiation is usually given with chemotherapy most commonly before surgery.
- Management of colorectal cancers is continually evolving and new treatment paradigms are on the horizon. Your doctor will discuss with you all options available in the management of your colorectal cancer.
External beam radiation therapy involves a series of daily radiation treatments targeting your tumor. Radiation treatments usually last less than 5 minutes but your appointment time is 15-20 minutes each day. Usually radiation treatments are delivered daily, Monday to Friday, for five to six weeks.
The number of treatments may also depend upon several other factors, including tumor size and location, other treatments you are receiving, and other medical conditions.
- 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) combines multiple radiation treatment fields. Each of the radiation beams accurately focuses on the tumor while trying to minimize nearby healthy tissue receiving radiation.
- Possible side effects include more frequent bowel movements, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, pressure or discomfort in the rectal area, increased urination, burning with urination, skin irritation, nausea and fatigue. These are usually temporary and resolve after your treatment ends.
- Chemotherapy side effects will depend on the specific drug/drugs you receive.
- Many of these side effects can be well managed with medications and dietary modifications. During treatment, talk to your doctor about any discomfort you feel. He or she may be able to provide medications or other recommendations that may help.