Battling Colon Cancer: Treatment Options by Stage

Stages of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is a disease that obstructs your digestive system, and may even affect the other parts of the body. If you are diagnosed with this condition, you need to seek treatment immediately to inhibit it from progressing any further.

Basically, colon cancer is treated through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Depending on the stage the colon cancer is in; your doctor may recommend one of those treatments or a combination of those procedures.


Stage 1

At this point, the cancer is still contained within the lining and layers of the colon, and it may still be part of a polyp or a precancerous cell. Polyps will be removed if cancer is found inside it, while a partial colectomy—the removal of the damaged portion of the colon—will be recommended if the cancer lies in certain parts of the colon.

Additional therapies after surgery are usually not recommended.


Stage 2

When colon cancer is in the second stage, the cancer cells have spread through the colon wall and affected nearby tissues, but not the neighboring lymph nodes.

Treatment for this stage involves partial colectomy. Chemotherapy may be advised after surgery if the cancer has a high chance of recurring. This typically happens when the cancer obstructs the colon or caused a hole in the colon wall.

When your doctor recommends chemotherapy, it’s important to understand its pros and cons before you decide to go through it. Today, doctors have different views about administering chemotherapy to stage 2 colon cancer patients, so make sure that it’s absolutely necessary for your condition and needs.


Stage 3

At this stage, cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, but it’s not yet affecting the other parts of the body.

Partial colectomy followed by chemotherapy is usually recommended for this stage. The surgeon may advise radiation therapy if cancer cells are not completely removed during surgery. Meanwhile, if the patient is not fit enough to go under the knife, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are recommended.


Stage 4

This is the most advanced stage of colon cancer, and at this point, the cancer has spread to different organs such as the liver and lungs.

When colon cancer is in an advanced stage, surgery may not be enough to eradicate the cancer completely, especially if it’s already widespread. However, if metastasis is not as extensive and is only evident in the liver or lungs in small portions, cancer may be removed from these organs along with those present in the colon.

Chemotherapy is recommended at this stage, and it is used to control the cancer. In some cases, this treatment is administered to contain the metastasis, and if the size of the tumor has shrunk, surgery may be performed. Typically, chemotherapy is done before and after surgery.

Radiation therapy may also be recommended for pain management. It may also help in shrinking tumors, but its effect is not usually substantial enough to result in full recovery or cure.

When colon cancer is in stage four, you need to understand why certain treatments are being recommended to you. Whether it’s chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy or a combination of the three, you need to know the main objective. Is it to cure you, or is it to help manage the symptoms of the disease?


Alternative Treatments

Battling cancer goes beyond the physical, and it can be emotionally draining too. To help you cope with distress, pain and side effects, you can consider taking alternative treatments such as dance therapy, meditation, music therapy, and relaxation exercises. Discuss this with your doctor and see which fits your needs and condition best.


Colon cancer is not a death sentence. In fact, mortality rates for colon cancer has dropped in the last 20 years, and there are approximately more than one million colon cancer survivors in the United States today. If you get diagnosed with this condition, don’t think that it’s the end. You have chances of getting healed, and it increases if you seek treatment immediately.

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