Colorectal Cancer Treatment: What You Can Expect

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Everyone who has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer will experience the condition in various ways. While some may experience severe symptoms, others may not. While some are in the later stages, others may be in the early stages. Therefore, if you have colorectal cancer, you should be familiar with your specific condition and understand the variables.

One of the most crucial factors you need to consider is colon cancer treatment. But before you choose a treatment option, here’s what you need to know.

Colon Cancer Treatment Options

Depending on the stage of your cancer, your doctor may recommend different treatment options. The main treatment modalities are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Surgery may be either open surgery or minimally-invasive surgery.

Open Surgery

Open surgery is a conventional approach that colorectal cancer specialists take to remove cancer from the body. There are different types of surgeries a doctor may perform, depending on the location of the cancer.

  • Colectomy: A colectomy is a procedure that removes that part of the colon affected by cancer. This is known as a hemicolectomy or segmental resection. For this procedure, the surgeon will remove only the part of the colon with cancer. In addition, the doctor will also remove surrounding tissues to check if the lymph nodes have been affected. The colon is then reattached so that bowel movement can be carried out normally.
  • Total Colectomy: A total colectomy is a procedure that removes all of the colon. While this is not the most common procedure, a total colectomy is performed if the doctor sees that other parts of the colon are affected, for example, with polyps or inflammation.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

A minimally invasive surgery makes use of laparoscopic instruments or robotic tools to treat and remove colorectal cancer. In addition, it makes smaller incisions, which means that patients can recover more quickly after the surgery.

The instruments have a built-in camera that transmits the footage onto a connected monitor in real-time so the surgeon can perform the procedure.

How to Prepare for Surgery

Regardless of the treatment you opt for; you will need preparation before the surgery. The doctor will ask you specific questions, such as your health history, and perform a general physical exam. You may be asked to provide a blood sample and go through an ECG, chest X-ray and lung function tests to determine if you are fit to undergo the procedure.

In the event that your intestines require cleansing, your doctor will give you a laxative prescription the night before the surgery to eliminate the waste in your colon. Once the surgeon is satisfied with your status, you can proceed with the surgery.

Procedure During Surgery

On the day of the surgery, an IV tube will be inserted in your veins for fluids and medications to be given. You will be brought to the operating room, where an anaesthesiologist will inject medicine to put you to sleep during the procedure (general anaesthesia). While you sleep, the surgical team will perform the surgery.

Recovery

After the surgery, you will need to stay in the hospital for a few days for postoperative monitoring by nurses and doctors. You will be able to go home when your initial recovery is complete.

If you’ve had open surgery, the home recovery period can range from three to six weeks. But if you’ve had minimally invasive surgery using laparoscopy, you can return to your usual activities more quickly, sometimes even around two weeks after your operation.

Conclusion

Besides these factors, you also have to consider other issues, including chances of recurrence after the surgery and the risk of surgery failure. As these can change your outlook, it’s essential to communicate these concerns with your doctor.

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Colorectal & General Surgeon
Dr Jane Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore in 1997. She obtained her postgraduate surgical qualifications from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 2000, and a Masters in Medicine (Surgery) from the National University of Singapore in 2001. She was certified a Specialist in General Surgery by the Specialist Accreditation Board of Singapore in 2005, and subsequently admitted as a Fellow to the College of Surgeons, Academy of Medicine of Singapore.
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Nexus Surgical Associates makes no representation and assumes no responsibility for the information, contained on or available through this website without consultation with our doctors. The information provided on this website is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from a doctor or if you require urgent care you should go to the A&E.

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