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Treatment for Colon Cancer

With locations across the Greater Houston area, Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers offer the latest techniques and treatments for patients with colon cancer. Whether you require surgical or non-surgical measures, our experienced cancer care teams will provide treatment that is tailored to fit your unique circumstances.

Contact one of our Oncology Nurse Navigators today. They’re here to help walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have about treatment options.

Surgical Treatments for Colon Cancer

Surgery is the most common method to treat early-stage colon cancers, but the type of surgery prescribed depends on several factors, including the:

  • Specific stage of colon cancer
  • Location of the cancer
  • Overall goal of treatment

The following are a few common surgical treatments provided by the  specialty trained surgeons affiliated with Memorial Hermann:

Polypectomy/Local Excision

Early-stage colon cancers and colon polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy, eliminating the need for abdominal incisions. During the colonoscopy, a flexible fiber-optic instrument called a colonoscope is inserted into the rectum, and doctors can use its small camera to examine the colon and locate and remove polyps with an electrified wire loop.

A local excision employs similar tools as a polypectomy, though this process of removing small cancers inside the lining of the colon is slightly more complicated.

Colectomy

Surgery to remove all or part of the affected colon, as well as nearby lymph nodes, is called a colectomy. During a partial colectomy or segmental resection, the surgeon removes a portion of the colon and reattaches the remaining healthy sections.

A total colectomy, removal of the entire colon, is much more rare. Patients with severe colon issues, such as numerous polyps or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may be candidates for a total colectomy.

Colostomy/Ileostomy

If a tumor has caused a blockage or hole in the colon, surgery is needed right away. Instead of normal colectomy, your surgeon may elect to create a stoma (i.e., colostomy or ileostomy) as a temporary measure. This involves diverting the fecal stream by connecting the healthy portion of the bowel and bypassing the rectum. This segment of bowel is then opened and sutured to the outside of the body through the abdominal wall, creating a stoma, an opening, which is then covered with a bag to collect fecal matter.

If the colon is sutured to the outside of the abdomen, the stoma is called a colostomy. Alternatively, if the small intestine (ileum) is sutured to the outside of the abdomen, then it is called an ileostomy.

Minimally Invasive Surgical Options

At Memorial Hermann, our goal is to provide the treatment that will most benefit you. While the affiliated surgeons  perform traditional “open” surgery when necessary, many of  the colon cancer treatments are performed using laparoscopic and robotic surgical techniques.

These advanced technologies allow surgeons to use more delicate tools that can access tighter areas with much smaller (and fewer) incisions. This can provide you with a quicker recovery process, less pain overall and your normal bowel function will likely be restored faster than with traditional open surgery.

For more information on minimally invasive surgery techniques, visit our Robotic and Minimally Invasive Procedures page.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Colon Cancer

Radiation Therapy

While radiation therapy is not commonly used to treat colon cancer, it may be employed in certain cases, including:

  • To shrink cancerous tumors in the rectum – typically in combination with chemotherapy – which decreases local recurrence rates and allows for easier removal of bulky cancerous tumors
  • To treat colon cancer that has spread to other areas, such as the bones or brain

For more information on the use of radiation therapy to treat cancer, visit our Radiation Oncology  page.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a common method for treating many different types of cancer, including colon cancer. Chemotherapy drugs are given to eliminate or otherwise stop cancer cells from growing. These drugs may be administered before surgery to shrink tumors (neoadjuvant chemotherapy), after surgery to ensure the cancer is eradicated (adjuvant chemotherapy) or to ease the symptoms of colon cancer (palliative chemotherapy).

For more information on the use of chemotherapy to treat cancer, visit our Chemotherapy page.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a relatively new technology designed to stimulate a patient’s immune system to fight back against cancer. Artificially created proteins called monoclonal antibodies are used in this method of targeted biological therapy.  The antibodies bind to cancer cells and destroy unique proteins present in certain types of cancers. Immunotherapy results have been promising, and research continues to advance this exciting technology.

For more information on the use of immunotherapy to treat cancer, visit our Medical Oncology  page.

Advanced Colon Cancer Treatment at Memorial Hermann

For more information about Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers, including how to  connect with support services or an affiliated provider, please call 833-770-7771 or fill out our Contact form to be connected to one of our Oncology Nurse Navigators.