Aug 20, 2009 5:15 PM
Surgery for cancer of the colon and rectum has long been the major treatment for colorectal cancer. For most colon cancers, surgery that removes the affected area yet does not require a colostomy is the usual treatment. For some rectal cancers, the removal of the affected area may require a colostomy.
When surgery is not able to remove the entire cancer, or when there is a great likelihood that some small amount of cancer is left in the area of the surgery, radiation therapy may be used to reduce the chance that the cancer will re-grow in that site.
When the cancer has spread to involve the lymph nodes, or has spread to the liver or other sites, chemotherapy is used to reduce chances that the cancer will grow, or to treat the cancer in the liver and other sites. When the cancer is still localized, but has a high chance to re-grow in that area, chemotherapy and radiation may be used together. Several new drugs for colon cancer have been introduced recently, increasing the options for treatment with chemotherapy.