Surgical Options for the Treatment of Colon Cancer
Surgery represents the most common treatment for any stage of colon cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute, with a number of procedure options. The goal of colon cancer surgery revolves around removing as much of the cancer cells as possible. The type of surgery a patient undergoes depends on the size of the cancerous growth and the stage of the cancer.
A local excision works for early stages of colon cancer. This type of surgery involves a thin tube inserted through the rectum and into the colon. The doctor then cuts the cancer out using small cutting tools at the end of the tube. If polyps are removed, this type of surgery is called a polypectomy.
Resection with Anastomosis
Resection occurs when a surgeon removes larger amounts of cancer along with some healthy tissue surrounding it. The doctor may also remove some nearby lymph nodes to examine them for potential cancer cells. The surgeon then performs anastomosis, whereby the healthy parts of the colon are sewn together. Removal of the colon with this type of procedure is called a partial colectomy. This procedure could occur at any cancer stage.
Resection with Colostomy
If the surgeon cannot sew the colon back together during a resection, a stoma is made for waste material to pass from the body. A stoma is an opening made from the colon to the outside of the body. A bag collects waste matter outside the stoma. Sometimes a stoma is temporary until other parts of the colon heal and the surgical procedure is reversed. This procedure is called a colostomy.
Radiofrequency ablation occurs when surgeons insert a small probe either directly through the skin or through an incision in the abdomen. This probe contains tiny electrodes that deliver heat to the affected area. The heat kills cancer cells but keeps surrounding tissue alive. This procedure is less invasive than other types of colon cancer surgery. Probes through the skin may require local anesthesia for the patient, whereas probes delivered through the abdomen may need general anesthesia.
Cryosurgery involves an instrument that delivers very cold substances to kill cancer cells by freezing them, thereby destroying abnormal tissue. Liquid nitrogen and argon gas represent the two most common materials used in the freezing process. These substances are delivered through a hollow cryoprobe, and surgeons monitor the deaths of cells with an ultrasound or MRI.
Post-operative Adjuvant Therapy
After surgery, patients may undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy delivers drugs, either by mouth or intravenously, to the body. Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiation can be delivered externally or through small probes inserted into the body.
Follow-up tests may be needed to ensure the cancer has not recurred after surgery. Doctors determine a course of action depending on the results of follow-up tests. People should check with a medical professional to determine a diagnosis and treatment regimen for colon cancer.