Treatment Options for Metastatic Colon Cancer
Jeffrey H. Dover
There are numerous courses of treatment that can be recommended to you by your doctor should you be diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer. Typically, the treatment your doctor recommends will depend on the type and stage of your cancer, and multiple therapies will often be used in conjunction with one another to achieve the best results.
Once colorectal cancer has spread to distant areas of the body, also known as metastatic cancer, doctors may recommend more aggressive forms of treatment, though the prognosis is usually not as good once the cancer has reached more advanced stages.
Some of the options for colorectal cancer treatment include:
• Surgery (when feasible)
• Targeted drug therapy
• Palliative radiation treatment
If the disease has spread to the liver or lungs and the secondary cancer can be removed via surgery, it may be an option. This typically would be followed by another form of follow-up treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. However, surgery often is not feasible at this stage because of the widespread nature of the metastatic cancer. Over time, advancements in surgical technologies have made surgery for metastatic colorectal cancer a more accessible option.
Another option for metastatic carcinomas of the colon or rectum is chemotherapy. One common form of chemotherapy is known as FOLFOX, which is a combination of three drugs: oxaliplatin, fluorouracil, and leucovorin.
If your doctor recommends targeted drug therapy as treatment for colorectal cancer, there are three monoclonal antibody therapies that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. One of these drugs, commonly referred to as Avastin, blocks blood vessel growth in relation to the tumor, which can effectively limit overall growth of the tumor or even reduce its size. Two of the other approved drugs in targeted drug therapy are commonly referred to as Erbitux and Vectibix. These drugs are used in an attempt to block tumor growth by inhibiting the growth-promoting effects that hormones often have on cancerous cells.