Treatment for colorectal cancer depends on the type, size and stage of the cancer, and your general health and treatment preferences. The mainstay of treatment for colorectal cancer is surgery, which may be provided alongside chemotherapy, radiation therapy or targeted therapies depending on the stage of the disease.
The surgical procedure used to treat colorectal cancer is a colorectal resection (colectomy), which involves the removal of all or part of the colon. The two techniques for a colectomy include:
- Open colectomy – where the surgeon makes a large incision in the abdominal wall to remove a section of the colon
- Laparoscopic (keyhole) colectomy – a less invasive procedure that uses four to five small incisions to remove the colon
While both techniques are effective at removing cancer, laparoscopic surgery is now the routine technique used for colorectal resection, providing advantages including reduced blood loss, postoperative pain and wound infection, a faster gastrointestinal and functional recovery from surgery and shorter hospital stay.
Other options include:
- Radiation Therapy – uses radiation to target cancer cells and destroy them
- Chemotherapy – uses specialist drugs that destroy cancer cells
- Targeted therapies – this type of therapy aims to destroy only cancer cells, whilst leaving healthy cells intact