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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Chemotherapy for colorectal cancer


Chemotherapy for colorectal cancer

Chemotherapy drugs are designed to destroy cancer cells or impede their ability to grow and reproduce. Chemotherapy may not be necessary for patients with stage I or stage II colorectal cancer, but is a common treatment option for patients with stage III or stage IV disease. Chemotherapy for colorectal cancer may be given intravenously or in pill form.

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is given prior to colorectal cancer surgery. An oncologist may recommend a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to help reduce the size of a tumor before surgery. This treatment is more common for rectal cancer. 

Adjuvant chemotherapy is given after surgery. This treatment may help destroy colorectal cancer cells that remain after cancer removal surgeries and may help lower the risk of recurrent cancer. Adjuvant chemotherapy may help prevent colorectal cancer from spreading to other parts of the body.

Common chemotherapy drugs used to treat colorectal cancer include capecitabine (Xeloda®), fluorouracil (Adrucil®) and oxaliplatin (Eloxatin®).