FACTS ABOUT COLON, RECTUM AND ANUS CANCER

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women, especially for those over 50 years of age. Colorectal cancers can also run within families (hereditary colorectal cancers), so those with a family history are at a higher risk. It is important to discuss your diagnosis with family members so they can decide with their doctors whether they need to be screened for colorectal cancers.

At Northeastern Nevada Radiation Oncology Center, we offer professional radiation cancer treatment to those battling with colorectal cancer, so they can start on the path to recovery and healthier, happier future. Below you can find more information about colorectal cancers, as well as various treatment options.


Learn More About Colon, Rectum and Anus Cancers


Treating Colon, Rectum and Anus Cancers

The type of treatment that will be best suited to treat you colorectal cancer depends on a wide range of factors like the type of cancer, its origin, your overall health before starting treatment, and more. The treatment that’s best for you will be determined after you meet with your doctor to examine the state of your health and discuss the treatment options, which include:

Surgical Treatment

For colorectal cancers, surgery is usually used as the first form of treatment due to its effectiveness. The surgeon will determine how much of the large bowel (the colon) needs to be removed in order to remove the tumor. Depending upon the location of the tumor, surgery may or may not allow normal bowel function afterwards.

For anal cancers, surgery is less frequently used at the time of diagnosis because effective approaches with chemotherapy and radiation therapy help protect the organs by targeting and killing the cancer cells directly. If bowel function is poor, sometimes surgery is used at first, but often it is reserved as a second chance treatment when “organ-preserving” treatment does not succeed. Because surgery for the anal canal involves removing the area responsible for bowel movements, a surgery called a colostomy to re-route bowel movements to a bag outside of the body is usually necessary as well.

Medication or Chemotherapy

While surgery and radiation focus directly on treating the bowel or pelvic area, medication is often used as a treatment method due to its high cure rate. A variety of cancer cell killing drugs are available, but a medical oncologist will evaluate you and determine what medications may be most helpful so you can be on the path to recovery quickly.

Chemotherapy is a kind of medication that can destroy cancer cells, using two or more drugs that treat the whole body, killing off the rapidly dividing cancer cells. The dose and schedule for treatment varies, with some cases of chemotherapy treatment being given once every few weeks, and in other cases given daily.

Back to top ▴

RADIATION CANCER THERAPY

Radiation therapy is often used as a compliment to both surgery and chemotherapy in order to treat cancers of the colon, rectum and anus. Utilizing advanced technology, concentrated beams of radiation are delivered to the area of the body affected by the cancer, effectively penetrating and eliminating cancer cells. Radiation treatment only lasts a couple of minutes, and is completely painless. For treating colorectal cancer, it involves focused radiation to the bowel and pelvis to treat cancer cells in the area. While the surrounding healthy cells can be affected and damaged by the treatment, normal cells are often able to heal from radiation injury.

Frequently, the goal of treatment is “organ-preservation”. With organ-preservation, the part of your body that controls your bowel movements, the anus, is not removed. Radiation therapy is often used in organ-preserving approaches, with the result that you will continue to be able to have bowel movements through your anus. If the anus does have to be removed, you would wear a bag on the outside of your abdomen to collect and store your bowel movements.

Technical terms that may be mentioned for colorectal and anal cancer treatments include three dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3-D CRT), intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and image guided radiation therapy (IGRT). Your radiation oncologist can provide more information about these different techniques at your initial consultation.

Back to top ▴

Possible Side Effects Of Radiation Treatment

Side effects are not the same for all patients. Ask your doctor what you might expect from your specific treatment program.

It is likely you will receive chemotherapy in addition to radiation therapy. The side effects from the chemotherapy will depend on the type being prescribed and how often you receive the treatments. Ask your medical oncologist about what chemotherapy side effects you may experience. Side effects often can be controlled with medications or changes in your diet. Tell your doctor or nurse if you experience any side effects, so they can work to help you feel better.

Back to top ▴

CARING FOR YOURSELF DURING TREATMENT

It is important to care for yourself as well as possible during radiation therapy because the normal parts of your body that are near the tumor are also receiving some radiation, although not as much as the cancer. These normal parts of your body need time and support to heal. A balanced diet, mild amount of physical activity and taking time to rest are all important parts of your cancer treatment. Follow your doctor's orders and, if you are unsure of anything, ask your nurse or doctor any question you may have about treatment. Be sure to tell your radiation oncologist about any vitamins or dietary supplements that you are currently taking to make sure they are safe to take during radiation therapy.

During and even after radiation therapy is over, you will need to take special care of your skin. Stay out of the sun, avoid hot or cold packs, and do not use lotions or ointments without checking with your doctor or nurse first. You should also be sure to clean the skin over the areas receiving radiation therapy with warm water and mild soap.

Completing treatment and recovery can be challenging. Seek out help from support groups and friends ahead of time. If you have a support network in place before and during treatment, it will be easier to get through side effects since people you can count on will be around to help you. If you need additional support, let your doctor and nurse know.

Back to top ▴

Colon, Rectum, and Anus Cancer Resources

Colon Cancer Alliance

1-877-422-2030
www.ccalliance.org

Colorectal Cancer Coalition (C3)

202-244-2906
www.fightcolorectalcancer.org

Also see Helpful Links

Back to top ▴

BROCHURE

Download a helpful brochure from www.rtanswers.org

*Content provided by the American Society for Radiation Oncology, www.rtanswers.org, and the American Cancer Society.

CONTACT US FOR MORE INFORMATION!

If you’re looking for a cancer treatment center that’s close to home, and can provide you with the professional care that you deserve, choose Northeastern Nevada Radiation Oncology Center. Our team is committed to providing high quality care with a personal touch, so you can feel comfortable throughout your treatment. Contact us to schedule an appointment, and start on your journey to health and happiness.

Back to top ▴