Colorectal Cancer Treatment by Stage

Treatment for colorectal cancer is based mostly on the stage (extent) of the cancer, however other aspects can also be very important.

People with colon cancers that have not infected distant sites usually have surgery as the main or first treatment. Adjuvant (added) chemotherapy may likewise be used. A lot of adjuvant treatment is provided for about 6 months.

Treating stage 0 colorectal cancer

Since stage 0 colorectal cancers have not grown beyond the inner lining of the colon, surgery to secure the cancer is usually all that is needed. This can be done in a lot of cases by removing the polyp (polypectomy) or local excision through a colonoscope. Removing part of the colon (partial colectomy) may periodically be needed if a growth is too huge to be gotten rid of by regional excision.

Treating stage I colorectal cancer

Stage I colorectal cancers have turned into the layers of the colon wall, however they have not spread outside the colon wall itself (or into the neighboring lymph nodes).

Stage I includes as cancers that became part of a polyp. If the polyp is removed completely during colonoscopy, with no cancer cells at the edges (margins) of the eliminated sample, no other treatment might be needed.

If the cancer in the polyp is high grade (see Colorectal cancer stages) or there are cancer cells at the edges of the polyp, more surgery may be recommended. You might likewise be advised to have more surgery if the polyp couldn’t be removed totally or if it had to be removed in numerous pieces, making it hard to see if cancer cells were at the edges.

For cancers not in a polyp, partial colectomy ─ surgery to remove the section of colon that has cancer and nearby lymph nodes ─ is the basic treatment. You typically will not need any additional treatment.

colorectal cancer treatments

Treating stage II colorectal cancer

Many stage II colorectal cancers have grown through the wall of the colon, and potentially into neighboring tissue, but they have not yet spread to the lymph nodes.

Surgery to eliminate the section of the colon including the cancer together with nearby lymph nodes (partial colectomy) might be the only treatment needed, according to But your doctor may suggest adjuvant chemotherapy (chemo after surgery) if your cancer has a greater risk of coming back (repeating) because of certain factors, such as:

  • The cancer looks very unusual (is high grade) when viewed under a microscope.
  • The cancer has actually become neighboring blood or lymph vessels.
  • The specialist did not get rid of at least 12 lymph nodes.
  • Cancer was discovered in or near the margin (edge) of the surgical specimen, meaning that some cancer may have been left behind.
  • The cancer had actually obstructed off (obstructed) the colon.
  • The cancer caused a perforation (hole) in the wall of the colon.

Not all doctors agree on when chemo should be used for stage II colorectal cancers. It’s crucial for you to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of chemo with your doctor, ranging from how much it may reduce your risk of recurrence and what the most likely side effects will be.

If chemo is used, the primary options include 5-FU and leucovorin, or capecitabine, however other mixes may also be used.

If your surgeon is unsure all the cancer was removed due to the fact that it was becoming other tissues, she or he might recommend radiation therapy to try to eliminate any staying cancer cells in the area of your abdominal area where the cancer was growing.

Treating stage III colorectal cancer

Stage III colorectal cancers have infected neighboring lymph nodes, however they have not yet infected other parts of the body.

Surgery to remove the area of the colon with the cancer in addition to close-by lymph nodes (partial colectomy) followed by adjuvant chemo is the standard treatment for this stage.

For chemo, either the FOLFOX (5-FU, leucovorin, and oxaliplatin) or CapeOx (capecitabine and oxaliplatin) routines are used usually, however some patients might get 5-FU with leucovorin or capecitabine alone based upon their age and health needs.

Your physicians may also recommend radiation therapy if your specialist thinks some cancer cells may have been left after surgery.

Radiation therapy and/or chemo might be choices for people who aren’t healthy enough for surgery.

Treating stage IV colorectal cancer

Stage IV colorectal cancers have spread out from the colon to far-off organs and tissues. Colon cancer usually spreads to the liver, but it can likewise infect other places such as the lungs, peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity), or to far-off lymph nodes.

Most of the times surgery is not likely to treat these cancers. However, if there are just a couple of small areas of cancer spread (metastases) in the liver or lungs and they can be eliminated in addition to the colorectal cancer, surgery might help you live longer and may even treat you. This would suggest having a partial colectomy to eliminate the area of the colon containing the cancer along with close-by lymph nodes, plus surgery to eliminate the areas of cancer spread. Chemo is normally given as well, before and/or after surgery. In many cases, hepatic artery infusion might be used if the cancer has spread to the liver.

If the metastases can not be gotten rid of since they are too large or there are a lot of them, chemo may be offered prior to any surgery (neoadjuvant chemo). Then, if the tumors shrink, surgery to remove them might be attempted. Chemo would then be given again after surgery. For tumors in the liver, another alternative may be to ruin them with ablation or embolization.

If the cancer has actually spread out excessive to try to treat it with surgery, chemo is the primary treatment. Surgery might still be needed if the cancer is obstructing the colon (or is likely to do so). Often, such surgery can be avoided by inserting a stent (a hollow metal or plastic tube) into the colon during a colonoscopy to keep it open. Otherwise, operations such as a colectomy or diverting colostomy (cutting the colon above the level of the cancer and connecting the end to an opening in the skin on the abdomen to permit waste out) might be used.

If you have stage IV cancer and your doctor recommends surgery, it’s very important to comprehend the objective of the surgery ─ whether it is to attempt to cure the cancer or to avoid or alleviate symptoms of the disease.

Most patients with stage IV cancer will get chemo and/or targeted therapies to manage the cancer. Some of the most typically used regimens include:

  • FOLFOX: leucovorin, 5-FU, and oxaliplatin (Eloxatin).
  • FOLFIRI: leucovorin, 5-FU, and irinotecan (Camptosar).
  • CapeOX: capecitabine (Xeloda) and oxaliplatin.
  • FOLFOXIRI: leucovorin, 5-FU, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan.
  • Among the above combinations plus either a drug that targets VEGF (bevacizumab [Avastin], ziv-aflibercept [Zaltrap], or ramucirumab [Cyramza], or a drug that targets EGFR (cetuximab [Erbitux] or panitumumab [Vectibix].
  • 5-FU and leucovorin, with or without a targeted drug.
  • Capecitabine, with or without a targeted drug.
  • Irinotecan, with or without a targeted drug.
  • Cetuximab alone.
  • Panitumumab alone.
  • Regorafenib (Stivarga) alone.
  • Trifluridine and tipiracil (Lonsurf).

The option of regimens depends on a number of elements, liking any previous treatments you’ve had and your general health. If among these regimens is not reliable, another may be attempted.

For sophisticated cancers, radiation therapy can likewise be used to assist avoid or ease symptoms such as pain. While it might shrink growths for a time, it is extremely not likely to lead to a treatment. If your doctor recommends radiation therapy, it’s important that you understand the goal of treatment.

Treating frequent colorectal cancer

Persistent cancer implies that the cancer has actually returned after treatment. The reoccurrence might be local (near the area of the preliminary tumor), or it may be in distant organs.

Local recurrence

If the cancer comes back locally, surgery (often followed by chemo) can often help you live longer and may even treat you. If the cancer can’t be removed surgically, chemo may be attempted first. If it diminishes the tumor enough, surgery may be an option. This would again be followed by more chemo.

Remote reoccurrence

If the cancer comes back in a distant site, it is more than likely to appear first in the liver. Surgery might be an alternative for some patients. If not, chemo might be tried first to diminish the tumor( s), which may then be followed by surgery to eliminate them. Ablation or embolization methods might likewise be a choice to treat some liver growths.

If the cancer has actually spread excessive to be treated with surgery, chemo and/or targeted treatments may be used. Possible regimens are the same when it comes to stage IV disease. Your options depend upon which, if any, drugs you received prior to the cancer came back and how long ago you got them, as well as on your health. You might still require surgery eventually to ease or prevent obstruction of the colon or other local complications. Radiation therapy might be an option to eliminate symptoms too.

Recurrent cancers can often be hard to treat, so you might likewise wish to ask your doctor if you may be qualified for scientific trials of newer treatments.


Last modified: October 24, 2016


Leave a Reply