What to Know First About Your Treatment Choices for Colorectal Cancer

Treatments can control the cancer and improve your quality of life by controlling your symptoms.

Once you know the stage of cancer you have, it is time to decide on a treatment plan. This section will help you understand your options and what’s best for you. Talking about your treatment choices will be one of the most important meetings you’ll have with your doctor.

Deciding on the best plan may take some time. Talk with your doctor about how much time you can take to explore your options before you must decide. You may want to get another opinion before making a decision. And you may want to talk with your family and friends.

Understanding the Goals of Treatment for Colorectal Cancer

Treatment for colorectal cancer has one or more of these goals.

  • Remove or kill the cancer cells as quickly as possible

  • Kill any cells that may have spread

  • Prevent or delay the cancer from returning

Types of Treatment for Colorectal Cancer

You have several options to treat colorectal cancer.

  • Chemotherapy. This treatment may be combined with surgery. You may have chemotherapy before surgery. Or you may have it after surgery.

  • Radiation therapy. This treatment is not often used for colon cancer. But it is commonly used to treat tumors that start in the rectum. It may be given before or after surgery--alone or with chemotherapy.

  • Biologic therapy. These are drugs that target specific functions of the cancer cell that help it grow. Biologic agents may be given alone or in combination with chemotherapy.

Your doctor may recommend that you get more than one type of treatment. Getting 2 or more types of treatment is called combination therapy.

Sometimes new treatments are available in a clinical trial. You can ask your doctor about that option.

Some people also use complementary therapies. That means they get a traditional type of cancer treatment along with a less traditional one. You may talk about this option with your doctor.

Medical Reviewer: [Berg, Deborah RN, BSN, Rick AlteriRick Alteri MD, Wallack, Marc K. MD] Last Annual Review Date: 2008-01-27T00:00:00-07:00 Copyright: © 2007 CancerSource, 280 Summer Street, 9th Floor, Boston, MA 02210. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.

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