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Advanced Colon Cancer
When abnormal cells divide uncontrollably in the colon (which the body does not need) the condition can trigger the accumulation of excessive tissues referred to as tumor that might be malignant or benign. The malignant tumors eventually lead to colon cancer, while the benign ones become polyps. The initial organ where the cancer begins is the inner wall of the large intestine. Cancer cells can penetrate beyond the bowel wall, reach other organs such as the liver and lungs, and create new tumors. This condition is known as advanced colon cancer or metastatic colon cancer. The cancer that has reached adjacent organs is still colon cancer. It can become fatal once you have been diagnosed with the cancer, enabling you to have a low survival rate. Click on image to enlarge.
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Staging allows us to know more about the tumor growth and explain how far the cancer has reached lymph nodes or nearby sites such as the lungs, liver, peritoneum, or ovaries. It goes from 0 to IV, while advanced colon cancer is referred to as stage IV.
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Your doctor might recommend that you undergo advanced cancer colon treatment if there are signs of cancer in your lungs, liver, or other organs. Therapies for metastatic disease are completely different with those of treatments for cancer that begin in the lungs or liver. Some treatments can help reduce the chance that the cancer will be recurrent, including:
Surgery is the most common treatment to remove cancer cells. It depends on the affected organs. Surgery must also keep the organs functioning well while removing metastatic cancers. It is recommended if the cancer has resulted in hemorrhage and intestinal blockage complication. Your doctor might recommend minimally invasive surgery (MIS) or laparoscopic surgery. This technique involves several small incisions and one or two sutures instead of a large incision in the traditional open surgery. Both MIS and open surgery give the same long-term effects, but MIS provides more advantages to you such as a short hospital stay and faster healing.
When cancer cells exist in nearby organs, chemotherapy can get rid of the tumors before or after the surgery. You might not have them removed because of their size or their amount. If this happens, chemotherapy can kill cancerous cells before surgery. To make sure cancer cells are totally eradicated, chemotherapy is performed once again after surgery. This method is very effective in shrinking advanced cancer cells so surgery can simply remove them. In addition, it works best to treat those with colon cancer when surgery cannot help them. Side effects that might occur after chemotherapy include hair loss, reduction of blood cells, mouth sores, numbness, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Minimally Invasive Ablative Therapies
When your liver is affected, it is recommended that you undergo ablative therapies to eradicate cancer cells in the liver, including:
1. Radiofrequency ablation
Electrical energy generated in radiofrequency produces heat and allows unwanted tissue to die. During this procedure, the physician inserts a needle probe into the tumor through the skin. The heat can kill the tumor within a few minutes, but cannot harm healthy tissue around it. The temperature is perfect to eliminate small-sized tumors less than four centimeters. Additionally, the complication rate is low.
Cryotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment that applies argon gas or liquid nitrogen at extremely cold temperatures to freeze and get rid of cancer cells. The physician uses image-guidance like CT scans or ultrasound to insert a needle probe to the affected liver through your skin and then deliver argon gas or liquid nitrogen.
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Several factors below will influence individual prognosis, including:
- General health
- The stage of the cancer
- The body's response to the therapies
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The National Comprehensive Cancer Network: Colon and Rectal Cancer - Stage IV - http://www.nccn.com/metastatic_colorectal_cancer.aspx
Cancer.gov: Treatment Options for Colon Cancer - http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/colon/Patient/page5
MayoClinic.com: Colon Cancer Treatment - http://www.mayoclinic.org/colon-cancer/treatment.html
Medicinenet.com: What is Cancer - http://www.medicinenet.com/colon_cancer/article.htm#2whatis
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Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.
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