Colon Cancer SurvivorSee More Survivor Stories...
No case is typical. You should not expect to experience these results.
"I learned volumes about how we need to be treated with compassion, care and concern-because that's a big part of getting well. You don't have to be at CTCA very long until you recognize that there is a difference there."
Colon cancer is cancer that forms in the colon. The colon is part of the body's gastrointestinal (digestive) system. It forms a long, muscular tube called the large intestine (or large bowel).
After food is chewed and swallowed, it travels down the esophagus to the stomach and then to the small intestine. From the small intestine, partly digested food enters the colon (the first five feet of the large intestine), which removes water and nutrients from the food and turns the rest into waste (stool). The waste then passes from the colon (which consists of four sections) into the rectum (the last six inches of the large intestine) and then out of the body.
Colon cancer can start in the tissues of any of the four sections of the colon. When cells that line the colon become abnormal and grow out of control, a cancerous tumor forms. In many cases, colon cancers develop slowly over a period of several years. Adenocarcinomas account for about 95 percent of colon cancers. Adenocarcinomas (e.g., mucinous, signet ring cell) begin in the intestinal gland cells that line the inside of the colon.
If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with colon cancer, or have been battling colon cancer for some time and are exploring your treatment options, you have come to the right place. Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) offers a comprehensive, individualized approach to colon cancer treatment. Here, we are committed to caring for you like family. Our doctors and practitioners will empower you with information, listen to your concerns, and deliver an integrative colon cancer treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Colon cancer may cause some common signs and symptoms, including the following:
- Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
- A change in bowel movements (e.g., persistent diarrhea or constipation, narrow stools)
- Abdominal pain or discomfort (e.g., gas pains, cramps, bloating)
- A continuous feeling of not being able to empty the bowel completely
- Unexplained fatigue, loss of appetite or weight loss
NOTE: Some of these symptoms may be caused by conditions other than colon cancer. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor.
Most colon cancers begin as a polyp (a growth of tissue that develops in the lining of the colon). Colon cancer screening can find and remove precancerous polyps (adenoma) or early stage cancer (when it is generally considered to be more treatable). Your doctor may use some of the following screening and diagnostic tests: physical examination, blood tests, biopsy, colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and endorectal ultrasound.
If tests show that colon cancer is present, your doctor needs to know the stage of the disease (the extent to which the cancer penetrates the various tissue layers) to see if the cancer has spread and to plan the best treatment. Colon cancer is categorized in stages 0-IV. Metastatic cancer is cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver. Recurrent cancer is cancer that has returned after being treated previously.
A colon cancer diagnosis can make you feel shocked, scared and anxious. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), we are here to help you manage your feelings, make informed decisions about your care, and cope with the journey ahead. Our team of expert doctors and technologists use the latest colon cancer diagnostic tools to accurately determine the location and stage of the disease. Using this information, your CTCA care team will develop the most appropriate treatment plan for you.
Treatment for colon cancer depends mainly on the stage and location of the cancer. Surgery is the most common treatment for colon cancer. It involves removing the cancer, a small margin of surrounding normal tissue, and nearby lymph nodes. The following are some types of colon cancer surgeries:
- Polypectomy (via colonoscopy): This procedure involves the removal of a small cancerous polyp from the colon with a colonoscope (a slender, lighted tube attached to a video camera).
- Laparoscopy ("keyhole" surgery): In this procedure, a laparoscope (a thin, lighted tube connected to a video camera) and special instruments are placed inside the body through a few small incisions in the abdominal wall to remove the cancer.
- Colon Resection (colectomy): This procedure involves a surgical excision, or removal, of the cancerous portion(s) of the colon. If the surgeon is not able to reconnect the healthy parts, a temporary or permanent colostomy may be needed. In this procedure, the doctor creates an opening (stoma) in the wall of the abdomen through which solid body waste is eliminated into a special bag.
Additional colon cancer treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and biotherapy. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that uses medications to kill cancer cells. Intra-Arterial Chemotherapy (IAC), a type of regional chemotherapy, may be used for cancer that has spread to the liver. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to shrink the tumor before surgery, kill cancer cells that may remain after surgery, and relieve pain and other symptoms caused by the cancer. Types of radiation therapy include external-beam radiation therapy and internal radiation therapy (e.g., High-Dose Rate (HDR) brachytherapy). Another colon cancer treatment is monoclonal antibody therapy, a type of biological therapy.
At CTCA, we provide a variety of innovative colon cancer treatment options and technologies that offer new hope and a greater quality of life. Based on your individualized treatment plan, some of the colon cancer treatments you may receive include various forms of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and biotherapy. We also understand that caring for you means caring for all of you, not just the disease. In addition to your conventional colon cancer treatments, we offer complementary medicine therapies, such as nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, oncology rehabilitation, and more.
When facing intensive therapy for colon cancer, you will rely on your medical team. It is important to find experienced and caring doctors who are familiar with your disease type and unique needs, and who take time to listen to you. At CTCA, we purposefully select physicians who can demonstrate a combination of medical expertise and attentive, compassionate care.
Here, you will find a care team of doctors and practitioners who are committed to exploring every treatment option available to you. Your care team will include oncologists, surgeons, pain management clinicians, dietitians, naturopaths, rehabilitation therapists, psychotherapists, and even pastoral care staff. And, since they reside in one location, our cancer experts are able to communicate regularly with each other about the progress of your treatment. This means you get a seamless experience and quality care every day.
At CTCA, we recognize that you are more than just a "cancer patient." You are a unique, whole individual. Our doctors and practitioners abide by a Mother Standard® of care, meaning we support you and your needs as we would our own mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, etc. Here, your care team will take the time to answer your questions, and provide whole-person treatments to help you fight colon cancer.
Cancer affects each person differently. Your colon cancer treatment should reflect your unique situation and needs. As a patient at CTCA, you will have your very own team of cancer experts who are committed to your fight. Your care team will work closely with you to develop a customized treatment plan that best suits your needs. With our collaborative approach to cancer treatment, we promise you more time, more attention and more comprehensive care at CTCA.
Throughout your treatment, your care team will visit with you to answer your questions and make sure your needs are being met. If you are hospitalized at any point, your care team will meet regularly with you during what we call "Comfort Rounds." This is an opportunity for you and your caregivers to meet face-to-face with doctors and practitioners from various departments within the hospital to discuss your physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, or other concerns.
At CTCA, we also encourage you to take an active role in your care and treatment decisions. With our Patient Empowerment MedicineSM (PEM) model, you are at the center of your care. We will work with you at whatever level you are comfortable to empower you with clear information, guidance and support the way you need it. At CTCA, you will receive the kind of care and personalized attention you need and deserve.
We understand you might be feeling overwhelmed by what's ahead. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), we are here to help you in your journey towards healing. From the moment you step inside a CTCA hospital, you will discover a treatment center that is welcoming and positive; one which brings the concept of hope and healing to life.
Should you decide to become a patient at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), we will handle all the details for you to make your arrival at one of our hospitals as seamless and stress-free as possible. Once you get here, all of your care is handled under one roof, with reduced wait times for appointments and test results, giving you more time to spend with family and friends. When your treatment is complete, our After Care Program aims to help you develop a plan for maintaining your health and taking the next steps in recovery.
To learn more about your colon cancer treatment options at CTCA, call us anytime at 1-800-615-3055. Our Oncology Information Specialists (OIS) are here for you 24 hours a day, every day of the year, to listen and help in the decision-making process. You can also send them an email or chat online. At CTCA, we are here to help you take the next steps towards healing.