Once the patient is diagnosed with colon cancer, a colon cancer treatment plan that suits the patient best would be presented. Many patients are suitable for cancer treatment. However, some of the patients who have general health problems or other medical conditions cannot risk colorectal surgery, chemotherapy treatment, or radiation therapy.
One week for cancer surgery, few hours to one night for every cycle of chemotherapy and radiation therapy
You should inform your doctor about the medical conditions you have and the medications you are taking, before the colon cancer treatment. This way, possible complications can be avoided. Before undergoing a colorectal surgery of any kind, the patient needs to fast for several hours. Lastly, before surgery, it is recommended to avoid taking any blood-thinning medicines such as aspirin for a week or two.
Most of the time, colon cancer treatment includes three main cancer practices:
• Colorectal surgery – during this operation, the surgeons try to maximally eliminate colon cancer either by removing parts or removing the patient’s colon completely, sometimes including rectum as well. Occasionally, due to colon cancer operation, a stoma, for example, colostomy or ileostomy, can be made. The stoma is either a permanent or temporary exit of the patient's bowels; through a stoma, the waste is transferred into a special bag.
• Chemotherapy treatment – during chemotherapy sessions, regularly, the patient is given drugs that aim to eliminate the colon cancer cells. Even though chemotherapy sessions are relatively short, their effects last for a long time.
• Radiation therapy – while performing radiation therapy, radioactive particles are injected either into the patient's bloodstream, which is called internal radiotherapy or emitted by a special tool (external radiotherapy) to abolish cancer cells.
However, the possibility of cancer surgery, the exact type of operation (classical or laparoscopic surgery) or drugs used in chemotherapy depends on a particular patient.
The recovery period of colon cancer surgery might take some time. The patient needs to stay in the hospital for around one week. The patient might experience pain after colorectal surgery, but it can be eased with painkillers prescribed by your doctor. The patients who had colostomy or ileostomy need to get used to living with a stoma either permanently or temporarily. Fortunately, there is no specific diet for patients who had a successful colorectal operation. However, for chemotherapy and radiation therapy, there is a long recovery period. Even after the last cycle, it may take months or even years for side effects to fade.
There are several risks and complications related to intestinal cancer surgery that include internal or external bleeding, leaking from newly sewn intestines and infection. Chemotherapy treatment and radiation therapy as a colon cancer treatment have probable risks that include internal or external bleeding, seizures, problems of neurological nature as well as infertility.
The main side effect of colorectal surgery is the need to temporarily or permanently use of stoma because of colostomy or ileostomy. However, it is possible to get used to it fastly and maintain a regular life. Other well-known notorious side effects caused by chemotherapy and radiation therapy involve:
• Short- or long-lasting neurological problems
• Difficulties with memory and concentration
• General weakness
• Double vision
• Problems with body balance
And so on. However, these side effects should not discourage the patients from having a colon cancer treatment, since it is a dangerous health problem that needs to be handled.
Colon cancer treatment success rates changes depending on the stages of colon cancer as well as its type, size, and the patient’s age and overall health. While patients with stage 1 colon cancer have a 5-year survival rate at more than 90%, stage 4 colon cancer patients have this survival year at a mere 11%. This displays the importance of colon cancer awareness. However, it does not mean that patients with stage 4 colorectal cancer should give up on their treatment for colon cancer. To get a successful treatment, being hopeful and a good psychological state are very important factors.
Most of the patients who are diagnosed early live a normal, happy life after the colon cancer treatment. For some of the patients, it might be needed to have colostomy or ileostomy, but still, once the patient gets used to it, it does not affect the patient’s daily activities remarkably.
What Type of Colon Cancer Treatment Should I Choose?
While choosing your treatment, firstly you should get your doctor's opinion, and if you are not sure about the process, you can always get another specialist’s opinion as well.
Why is Colorectal Surgery not Enough to Fight the Intestinal Cancer?
After the colorectal surgery, cancer cells might not be completely eliminated. Therefore, patients generally get chemotherapy and radiation therapy after they recover from colon cancer surgery.
When Will I Totally Recover from Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy?
It might last for months or even years to recover. Most of the patients experience some side effects for a long time. However, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are very effective against cancer cells, so side effects are price possible to be paid for saving one's life.
Up to the patient
Up to the patient
This content is written and reviewed by our medical content team in September, 2019.