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Colon Cancer Treatment Information
Our colon cancer experts use a variety of treatments to identify and combat this disease. These include:
- Colonoscopy is the best tool for identifying cancer and removing colon polyps. Patients are commonly referred to our gastroenterologists for difficult colonoscopies or removal of large colon polyps. During a colonoscopy, you are sedated so that you feel no discomfort or pain. A physician guides a thin tube with a camera through your colon to check for polyps or unusual growths. Polyps can be removed during colonoscopy and checked for cancer cells. If a colonoscopy is normal, you only need to receive colonoscopies every ten years starting at age 50.
- Chemotherapy. Depending on the stage of colon cancer, chemotherapy may be used at different times during treatment. Before surgery, it may be given to shrink the tumors. After surgery, chemotherapy is used to kill the small number of cancer cells that may have been left behind at surgery. Other types of chemotherapy work to destroy colon cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body. It is important to discuss the pros and cons of this therapy with your physician.
- Endoscopic removal of tumors. Colonoscopies (one type of endoscopy) sometimes allow physicians to remove cancerous tumors in the colon as soon as they are found, even during a screening colonoscopy.
- Biological therapy. Biologics are a new class of drugs containing special antibodies (disease-fighting proteins) that bind to cancer cells and interfere with their growth. Some biologics have been shown to improve outcomes for colon cancer.
- Radiation. Radiation treatments use high-energy X-rays to kill colon cancer cells. These therapies are sometimes used to shrink colon tumors and to treat tumors that are too large or in places that make it difficult to take them out surgically. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer.
- Surgery. Surgery is the most common treatment for all stages of colon cancer. Types of surgery offered at IU Health for colon cancer include:
- Local excision. For early stages of colon cancer, your physician may remove it without cutting through the abdominal wall.
- Resection. If the cancer is larger, your physician performs a partial colectomy (removing the cancer and a small amount of healthy tissue around it).
- Resection and colostomy. If needed, your physician performs a colostomy, using a stoma (opening) on the outside of the body for waste to pass through.
- Radiofrequency ablation. This procedure uses a probe with tiny electrodes that kill cancer cells.
- Cryosurgery. A treatment that uses an instrument to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue, such as cancer cells.
Colon Cancer Locations & Physicians
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Colon Cancer Support Services
Learning about colon cancer may help you prevent it. Use these resources to find out more about what you can do to help yourself, or someone you love, live with colon cancer.
A Sampling of Colon Cancer Support Services
American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society provides extensive information about colon cancer, including information about screening colonoscopies.
Centers for Disease Control
This U.S. government website provides basic information about colon cancer.
Colon Cancer Alliance
The Colon Cancer Alliance is dedicated to increasing the number of people screened for colon cancer. It also provides information and support for people with colon cancer and their families, including an online support community.
National Cancer Institute
This U.S. government website contains a wealth of information about colon cancer, treatment, research into better treatments, clinical trials and many other topics.