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What Is Involved in Metastatic Colon Cancer Treatment?

By Valerie Goldberg
Updated May 17, 2024
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Metastatic colon cancer is cancer that begins in the colon and spreads to other parts of the body. There are several metastatic colon cancer treatments available. These treatments can include, but are not limited to, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery.

Chemotherapy is used as a leading metastatic colon cancer treatment. When a patient begins chemotherapy, the spreading cancer cells are killed rapidly. This can be lifesaving for a patient who has cancer that keeps progressing. A drawback to chemotherapy as a metastatic colon cancer treatment is that the treatment is so strong that other cells aside from cancer cells can be killed, causing patients to lose hair, feel nauseous and become extremely fatigued.

Another common metastatic colon cancer treatment is radiation therapy. Radiation therapy can be used as the sole treatment for cancer or in combination with other treatments to minimize tumors. Internal and external radiation treatments are available. External radiation treatment requires a machine to be used to administer the radiation, while internal radiation calls for radioactive medication to be inserted at the site of a tumor. Both therapies require patients to spend a lot of time in and out of the hospital over several weeks and can have side effects including diarrhea, loss of appetite and fatigue.

Surgery can be used as a metastatic colon cancer treatment to remove tumors from the colon and other parts of the body. Metastatic cancer may have spread to multiple parts of the body, however, so surgery alone is typically not enough. Radiation therapy or chemotherapy also will likely be prescribed before or after the surgery. Not all colon cancer surgeries are the same. The portion of the colon affected by tumors can determine how much of the colon needs to be removed.

Some hospitals use a type of treatment called cryotherapy to treat cancer. As of 2011, the treatment is still considered controversial and is not as widely used as other treatments. During cryotherapy treatment, liquid nitrogen is used to treat cancer cells. A common side effect of cryotherapy is damage to the tissue in the area surrounding the cancer site.

If colon cancer runs in a person's family, the person should live a healthy lifestyle in an attempt to prevent cancer. Diets rich in vitamin D and calcium may help to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Declining to smoke or otherwise use tobacco products and keeping consumption of alcoholic beverages to a minimum also have been shown to help prevent some forms of cancer.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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