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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Colectomy for colorectal cancer


A colectomy is the removal of all or part of the colon. The resection may be performed as a less invasive laparoscopic colectomy. If open surgery is needed, a long incision in the abdomen may be required. With open surgery, patients may need to stay in the hospital for a week or more and may have a longer period of recovery.

When possible, a surgical oncologist will perform a laparoscopic colectomy to remove the cancerous portion of the colon and nearby lymph nodes, and then reattach the healthy ends of the colon. A laparoscopic colectomy may result in less pain, a shorter stay in the hospital and a speedier recovery.

With a laparoscopic colectomy, approximately four to five small incisions are made around the abdomen. The surgical oncologist then inserts a laparoscope, a thin tube equipped with a tiny video camera that projects images of the inside of the abdomen on a nearby monitor. The surgical oncologist then inserts instruments through the incisions to perform the surgery.

What is a colectomy?

A colon resection (also known as a colectomy) is an inpatient procedure in which the cancerous portion of the colon is removed. To ensure all of the cancerous tissue is removed, a small portion of healthy colon tissue adjacent to the cancerous tissue may also be removed. On average, one-fourth to one-third of the colon may be removed during a colectomy. The remaining portions of the colon are then connected.

Your surgical oncologist will also perform a procedure called a lymphadenectomy, in which he or she removes several nearby lymph nodes to properly stage the cancer and determine if the disease has spread. A pathologist, who is often present in the surgical suite, analyzes the lymph nodes under a microscope to check for the presence of cancer. He or she provides pathology results immediately so that your surgical oncologist can remove as much of the diseased tissue as possible during the surgery.