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The Fight against Colon and Rectal Cancers: Common Courses of Treatment in Georgia

According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that over 3,800 people were diagnosed with colon and rectal cancers in Georgia in 2010. Nationally, more than 142,000 new incidences of colorectal cancer were diagnosed in 2010, ranking second in cancer diagnoses for both men and women.

Fortunately, there are multiple options for treatment of colorectal cancers that may be recommended by your doctor, including several types of surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted drug treatments.

Surgical Procedures

The most frequently recommended treatment for colorectal cancers is surgery in which the cancerous tumor and surrounding tissue is removed from the colon or rectum.  Often, other treatments may be used in conjunction with surgery to assure the cancer is gone and lessen the likelihood of a recurrence.

Polypectomies are surgeries to remove cancer found in a polyp. If the cancer is a little bigger in scale, a partial colectomy may be recommended, where the cancer and a small portion of healthy tissue surrounding the tumor are removed.

If the lymph nodes have been affected and need removal, the procedure is known as a lymphadenectomy. Occasionally, follow-up colostomies are required, which are procedures to create a new opening for waste to pass out of the body. These are usually temporary but can be permanent.

Radiofrequency ablation is another operation for the removal of colorectal cancers.  In this procedure, a probe is used that emits radio waves that kill cancerous cells. Another form of surgery doctors may recommend is called cryosurgery, in which a colonoscope is inserted into the body to freeze and kill the tumor.


Through the utilization of drugs, chemotherapy can stop the growth of cancerous cells. This is achieved by preventing cancerous cells from dividing or by killing the cells outright. This treatment option can be taken orally or by intravenous injection. If necessary, regional chemotherapy can be administered through the direct injection of drugs into the spinal column, organs or a body cavity. Regional chemotherapy for colorectal cancer that uses the abdominal cavity is known as peritoneal chemotherapy. If the colon cancer has metastasized to the liver, chemoembolization of the hepatic artery may be recommended.

Radiation therapy

High energy x-rays are used in radiation therapy to kill cancerous cells or keep them from growing. Other forms of energy, such as proton beams, are sometimes used. Radiation can be administered externally, by a machine, or internally, through various means. Internal radiation therapy combats the cancer directly as the needle, catheter or wire is placed near to or directly into the tumor.

Targeted drug therapy

This form of treatment hasn’t yet been proven to be as effective as any of the aforementioned treatment options, and is currently being studied in clinical trials. However, similar to chemotherapy, this form of treatment utilizes anti-cancer drugs by directly injecting them into the cancerous cells. Consequently, the cancerous cells may die or be unable to divide while the surrounding healthy tissue remains unscathed. One of the more prominent forms of targeted drug therapy being studied is monoclonal antibody therapy.