Bowel Cancer Treament Types
Surgery (removing the cancer in an operation) is the most common treatment for all stages of bowel and colon cancer. A surgeon may remove the cancer using one of the following types of surgery:
- Local excision: If the cancer is found at a very early stage, a tube may be put through the rectum into the colon to cut the cancer out. This is called a local excision. If the cancer is found in a polyp (a small bulging piece of tissue), the operation is called a polypectomy.
- Resection: If the cancer is larger, the surgeon will perform a partial colectomy (removing the cancer and a small amount of healthy tissue around it). The surgeon may then perform an anastomosis (sewing the healthy parts of the colon together).
- Resection and colostomy: If the surgeon is not able to sew the 2 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. A bag is placed around the stoma to collect the waste.
- Radiofrequency ablation: The use of a special probe with tiny electrodes that kill cancer cells is called radiofrequency ablation.
- Cryosurgery: A treatment that uses an instrument to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue, such as carcinoma in situ. This type of treatment is also called cryotherapy.
Even if the surgeon removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the operation, some patients may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left.
Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. Monoclonal antibody therapy is a type of targeted therapy used in the treatment of colon cancer.
Monoclonal antibody therapy uses antibodies made in the laboratory from a single type of immune system cell. These antibodies can identify substances on cancer cells or normal substances that may help cancer cells grow. The antibodies attach to the substances and kill the cancer cells, block their growth, or keep them from spreading. Monoclonal antibodies are given by infusion. They may be used alone or to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to cancer cells.
For colon cancer, a blood test to measure carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA; a substance in the blood that may be increased when colon cancer is present) may be done along with other tests to see if the cancer has come back.