Colorectal Cancer

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Treating Colon/Rectum Cancer TOPICS

How is colorectal cancer treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society's Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don't hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

Making treatment decisions

After the cancer is found and staged, your cancer care team will discuss your treatment options with you. The main types of treatment that can be used for colon and rectal cancer are:

For advanced colon and rectal cancer, ablation or embolization may also be used.

Depending on the stage of the cancer, 2 or more of these types of treatment may be combined at the same time or used after one another.

It is important to discuss all of your treatment options with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs. (See the section “What should you ask your doctor about colorectal cancer?”) In choosing a treatment plan, one of the most important factors is the stage of the cancer. Other factors to consider include your overall health, the likely side effects of the treatment, and the probability of curing the disease, extending life, or relieving symptoms.

When considering your treatment options it is often a good idea to seek a second opinion, if possible. This may provide you with more information and help you feel more confident about the treatment plan you have chosen. It is also important to know that your chances for having the best possible outcome are highest in the hands of a medical team that is experienced in treating colorectal cancer.

The first part of this section describes the various types of treatments used for colon and rectal cancers. This is followed by a description of the most common approaches used for colon cancer and the most common approaches for rectal cancer, based on the stage of the cancer.

Last Medical Review: 10/15/2014
Last Revised: 08/13/2015