Surgery is the most common treatment method for colon cancer. The type of surgery will depend on the stage of the tumor and the area it is located in.
- Local resection
Colorectal cancer in stage 1 can be eliminated with an operation called local resection. The surgeon removes the cancer from the mucosa of the intestine using a colonoscope. If the tumor is located in the lowest part of the rectum (closest to the anus), a colonoscope isn't necessary to remove the tumor.
- Total mesorectal excision
This is the most common operation for rectal cancer. During the procedure, the surgeon eliminates the rectal region by making a wide excision encompassing the fat and lymph nodes located around the rectum.
- Open or laparoscopic surgery
The operation may be performed as open surgery or laparoscopic surgery.
Open surgery means the surgeon makes an incision that causes a wound that extends from the sternum to the navel or from one side of the abdomen to the other.
In laparoscopic surgery, four or five small incisions are made in the abdomen, and a laparoscope is inserted inside one of the holes and surgical instruments are inserted in the others.
Recovery from laparoscopic surgery is normally faster than for open surgery. Your surgeon will talk to you about what type of surgery is appropriate.
- Stomas (colostomy/ileostomy)
In some cases of surgery, an opening is made in the abdomen after surgery to allow the bowels to be emptied through the hole.
If the stoma is made in the colon, it is called a colostomy; if an opening is made in the small intestine (ileum), the procedure is called an ileostomy.
Stomas can be temporary or permanent, though only a small number of patients with colorectal cancer need to have a permanent stoma (i.e., those in whom the tumor removed was near the anus).
A temporary stoma can be performed to allow the intestine to rest after colon surgery. After, a second surgery will be done to close the stoma up.
- Lung metastases surgery
The main treatment for cancer that has spread to the lungs is chemotherapy. From time to time, however, surgery may be performed to remove the part of the lung that has been affected.
- Surgery for liver metastases
If the cancer has spread to the liver, the most common treatment is chemotherapy to reduce its size and keep the size under control.
Some patients may have surgery to remove the pat of the liver that has been affected by cancer; this operation is called liver resection.
Liver resection is major surgery, and the operation lasts 3-7 hours.