When colon cancer is detected, there are several treatment options. these have varying levels of risk and effectiveness, but the earlier the cancer is detected, the better the outcome.
Precancerous polyps and early-stage cancer cells can be removed immediately during a colonoscopy. In many cases, this removal will completely heal the cancer. Lager polyps may require laparoscopic surgery, using small instruments and cameras inserted through the abdominal wall.
Later stage or more widespread cancers may require more invasive surgery. Once cancer reaches the inner layers of the colon—stage I—doctors recommend a colon resection, or removal of the entire affected part of the colon.
If the cancer has spread throughout the colon and is affecting the lymph nodes, chemotherapy is often required in addition to surgery. At that stage it may not be safe or even possible to remove enough of the colon to be sure of getting all the cells, so a usually short course of chemotherapy is needed to kill any cancerous cells left behind.
Radiation therapy is seldom needed for colon cancer, though if the cancer ha reached Stage IV and spread to other organs a combination of radiation and chemotherapy may be used to prolong the patient’s life. Unfortunately, by this point the chances of a complete cure are very small. That’s why it’s important to be screened often and, if cancer is found, begin treatment early.
Be sure to be tested for colon cancer regularly, particularly if you’re at risk. If cancer is found, talk to your doctor about what sort of treatment is right for you.