Treatment options available
Colorectal cancer is usually treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or with a combination of these treatments.
If the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body then surgery is used to remove the cancer. This is often the case with early colorectal cancer.
If the cancer has spread but only in a limited area, surgery can also be attempted. Surgery is also an option if the cancer is causing a blockage (obstruction). This can help to relieve the symptoms.
- Radiotherapy is used to treat rectal cancer but is rarely used to treat colon cancer
- Radiotherapy can be given before or after surgery for rectal cancer. This is known as ' adjuvant ' radiotherapy, and can kill any small cancer cells that may have been left behind during surgery
- Sometimes, radiotherapy is used before surgery on the rectum to reduce the size of the tumour so that it is easier to remove
In early stage colon cancer, chemotherapy can be given after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body but are too small to be detected. This is known as adjuvant therapy.
If the colorectal cancer has spread to other parts of the body it is known as advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer. Chemotherapy is normally given to people with metastatic stage of cancer to reduce their symptoms, improve their quality of life and extend survival for as long as possible.
How is chemotherapy administered?
Chemotherapy can be given in an oral form (tablet) or intravenously (IV/drip).
Intravenous Therapy (IV)
IV administred chemotherapy is a method of administering cancer treatment by injection into a vein.
There are many types of oral chemotherapy drugs available for treatment of different types of cancer. Oral chemotherapy is taken in tablet or capsule form, either by itself or in a combination with another form of chemotherapy.
Oral chemotherapy allows patients to have their treatment at home. Although you will be able to take your oral chemotherapy treatment at home, you will still need to see your doctor regularly so that your progress can be monitored.