Treatment & Procedures
The treatment your doctors recommend is based on information about the type of tumor you have and how far it has spread, reflected in the “stage” of the tumor. Stage 1 is used to characterize disease confined to the involved organ and stage 4 indicates cancer that has spread from the affected organ to other parts of the body.
Once colorectal cancer has been diagnosed and staged, your Houston Methodist oncologist may recommend one or more treatments:
Surgery for Colorectal Cancer
Surgery, which involves removing the cancer in an operation, is the most common treatment for all stages of colon cancer. Your doctor will select the type of surgery you need based on the characteristics of your tumor.
- Local excision — If the cancer is found at a very early stage, your doctor may remove it without cutting through the abdominal wall, using a local excision or polypectomy (removal of a polyp).
- Resection of the colon with anastomosis — If the cancer is larger, your doctor will perform a partial colectomy (removing the cancer and a small amount of healthy tissue around it). Your doctor may then perform an anastomosis (sewing the healthy parts of the colon together).
- Resection of the colon with colostomy — If your doctor is not able to sew the two ends of the colon back together, a stoma (an opening) is made on the outside of the body for waste to pass through. This procedure is called a colostomy. Sometimes the colostomy can be reversed once the lower colon has healed, but if the doctor needs to remove the entire lower colon, the colostomy may be permanent.
Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be needed after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left.
The management of colorectal cancer is accomplished with a multidisciplinary team of specialists, including colorectal surgeons, medical oncologists specializing in only gastrointestinal cancers, and radiation oncologists. Individualized plans of care are provided to each patient by a panel of multidisciplinary team of doctors.
When colorectal cancer is detected early, surgical resection has a cure rate greater than 95 percent. There are several approaches to surgical removal. At Houston Methodist, we offer the latest techniques and medical breakthroughs to help recover faster and return to your daily activities. Our colorectal experts are experienced in advanced laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery, a specialized technique where surgery is performed using instruments and a tiny video camera placed through one or more small incisions. Our surgeons are also skilled in innovative robotic techniques that improve curative and quality of life outcomes related to rectal cancers. Compared with traditional open surgery, you experience less pain, a faster recovery and less scarring. You will also be advised on enhanced recovery programs designed to accelerate recovery and return you to normal activities after undergoing surgery.
While surgery is the main treatment for colorectal cancer, depending on the stage and location, additional treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation may be needed to completely treat the cancer. A personalized treatment plan is designed for you by a multidisciplinary medical team to provide the best individual care possible.
Learn more about surgical treatments, including the roles that different surgical approaches have in preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer.
Radiofrequency ablation uses a special probe with tiny electrodes that kill cancer cells. Sometimes the probe is inserted directly through the skin and only local anesthesia is needed. In other cases, the probe is inserted through an incision in the abdomen. This is done in the hospital with general anesthesia.
Cryosurgery uses a special instrument to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue. This type of treatment is also called cryotherapy.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. The method the chemotherapy is delivered depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or given intravenously (IV), the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy).
Learn more about chemotherapy treatment, including how it works within your body and what to expect while undergoing treatment.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. Many different types of radiation can be employed, depending on the size and location of the tumor. Houston Methodist offers innovative radiation therapies.
Learn more about the variety of innovative radiation therapies offered at Houston Methodist.