Colorectal Cancer Chemotherapy
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Video: ChemotherapyLearn about CTCA's advanced chemotherapy treatment methods to treat many different forms of cancer.
Chemotherapy for Colorectal Cancer
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), medical oncologists aggressively fight colorectal cancer with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a common treatment option for patients with stage III or stage IV colorectal cancer.
Chemotherapy drugs work to either destroy cancer cells outright, or impede their ability to grow and reproduce. This type of colorectal cancer treatment is usually administered through a vein or the hepatic artery.
Colorectal Cancer Chemotherapy Options
Our medical oncologists use leading colorectal cancer chemotherapy treatments and employ innovative chemotherapy delivery methods. These include:
When given as an adjuvant therapy (i.e., additional treatment following colorectal cancer surgery), chemotherapy can:
- Help destroy colorectal cancer cells that remain after surgery
- Prevent colorectal cancer from spreading to other parts of the body (e.g., liver)
- Help lower the risk of cancer recurrence
Chemotherapy given prior to colorectal cancer surgery can help reduce the size of tumors. This is known as neoadjuvant therapy. If you have rectal cancer, this type of treatment may be particularly helpful. Our oncologists may recommend a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, followed by rectal cancer surgery.
In addition to chemotherapy for colorectal cancer, our medical oncologists use targeted therapies, such as monoclonal antibodies. Some of the most recent, promising advances in colorectal cancer treatment have been in targeted therapies.
Meeting Your Individual Needs
Depending on the type and stage of colorectal cancer you have, your medical oncologist at CTCA may recommend chemotherapy.
Your medical oncologist will talk with you in detail about your diagnosis, and help you understand your colorectal cancer treatment options. Together you’ll decide on the chemotherapy regimen that’s right for you and map out your course of treatment.
To determine the chemotherapy regimen that is likely to be most beneficial for you, your medical oncologist may use tumor molecular profiling. For this laboratory test, a tumor sample is removed as a part of a biopsy or other surgery. Then, a series of chemotherapy drugs are tested on the sample to learn which drugs work best.
Your medical oncologist will monitor the effects of your chemotherapy treatment through physical exams, blood tests, CT scans and MRI scans. If the cancer is resisting treatment, he or she will modify your treatment or recommend using a different therapy.
Throughout your colorectal cancer treatment at CTCA, your medical oncologist will collaborate with other members of your care team and coordinate many aspects of your treatment. For example, if you need to undergo colorectal cancer surgery, your medical oncologist will work in partnership with your surgical oncologist to plan a treatment approach that is best suited to you.
Your medical oncologist will also work closely with your pain management practitioner to ensure that you are getting the pain relief you need. These are just a few of the clinicians your medical oncologist will work with to provide comprehensive and fully integrated colorectal cancer treatment.
Addressing Side Effects of Colorectal Cancer Chemotherapy
Your medical oncologist at CTCA understands that dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy can be one of the biggest challenges of fighting cancer. Chemotherapy for colorectal cancer may cause some of the following side effects:
- Loss of appetite
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and/or feet
- Mouth sores
- Hair loss
To help you manage side effects, your dedicated CTCA care team will provide a multitude of therapies, including nutrition and metabolic support, naturopathic medicine, pain management and mind-body medicine. Your naturopathic clinician, for example, can recommend natural therapies to help regulate bowel movements, soothe your gastrointestinal tract, prevent diarrhea, treat mouth sores and promote a healthy sleep pattern.
Furthermore, your medical oncologist will provide a combination of medications to help ease nausea and/or vomiting. At our Infusion Center (where you’ll receive your chemotherapy treatments), you can also receive anti-nausea medication before your chemotherapy is administered.
Additionally, your medical oncologist may recommend minor surgery for central port placement. In this procedure, which takes about half an hour, a soft, plastic tube is implanted into a vein in your arm or chest. Its opening—the port—is just under your skin. Through the port, you can receive your chemotherapy and have your blood drawn. This helps you avoid the repeated, painful poking and prodding of needle insertion.
Next Topic: Tumor Molecular Profiling for Colorectal Cancer