The treatments used for colorectal cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. A combination of treatments is often used.
Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer and where it is located. However, it can also depend on your overall state of health and personal preferences.
It is important that you have a chance to talk about the treatments with your doctor. This will help you understand why a particular treatment plan has been suggested for you and how the treatment may affect you.
Surgery to remove cancer is one of the main treatment methods used for rectal cancer. The operation usually involves eliminating the affected part as well as the nearby lymph nodes.
Sometimes, surgery is used to relieve symptoms rather than to cure the cancer, as in the case of when cancer causes blockage in the intestine.
In some cases, surgery may be used to eliminate cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the liver or the lungs.
Chemotherapy administered before or after surgery to reduce the risk of the the cancer coming back and to reduce the size of the cancer and relieve the symptoms if the cancer has reappeared after treatment or if it has spread.
Targeted therapies are used alone or in combination with chemotherapy to control stage-4 cancer.
Radiotherapy can be given before or after surgery and, as with chemotherapy, reduces the risk of the cancer returning.
How is the treatment planned?
Your treatment will be planned by a group of specialists who will meet to discuss and agree upon the best possible treatment plan for you.
This multidisciplinary team will include:
- A surgeon (who specializes in your type of cancer)
- A medical oncologist
- A radiotherapy oncologist
- Radiologists who help analyze x-rays and scans.
- Pathologists who advise on the type and extent of the cancer.
Other health professionals may be included, such as a palliative care doctor (who is specialized in controlling symptoms), a nutritionist, a physical therapist, and occupational therapists, and a psychologist.