This surgery involves the removal of parts of the large intestine (colon) through an incision in the abdomen.
Colon cancer refers to the growth of abnormal cells in the large intestine or rectum. It is often referred to as a malignant or cancerous tumor. The bowel is made up of the:
Colon cancers and rectal cancers come from similar tissues, so they are often grouped together. However, this care path focuses on colon cancer. It does not contain information about rectal cancer.
Cancer usually begins with the formation of a polyp, a noncancerous piece of tissue that grows out from the lining of the colon.
Healthcare providers will look for spread of the colon cancer to other areas of the body. This process is called “staging.” Metastatic colon cancer is cancer that started in the colon and has spread to other organs. Your healthcare provider will need the following clinical information to decide what type of treatment is right for you.
A colectomy is the surgical removal of varying amounts of the large intestine through an incision in the abdomen. How much of the large intestine that is removed depends on your specific circumstances. The factors that will determine the right procedure for you include:
In some cases, removal of the colon can be done using small medical instruments and a camera inserted into three or four small cuts in the abdomen. This is called a laparoscopic, or minimally invasive, surgery.
Many factors can increase your chance of getting colon cancer. Some of the risks factors for colon cancer include:
There are frequently no symptoms in the early stages of colon cancer, which is why appropriate screenings are important. Some of the symptoms that can develop as the cancer grows include:
As the cancer advances, other symptoms can develop.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of colon cancer. He or she will ask you questions and perform a physical examination. They may also recommend one of the following tests:
The treatment for colon cancer is based on many factors, including:
Treatments are either local (only affects the area of the cancer) or systemic (affects all areas of the body). Local treatments include:
Systemic treatments include:
Treatment for colon cancer usually involves a combination of local and systemic treatments. You may have more than one type of treatment at a time. Depending on your situation, you may alternate between chemotherapy and radiation before or after surgery.
To get a full range of opinions and perspectives, you may want to consider input from a variety of doctors. This group may include:
If your healthcare provider recommends a colectomy, prior to the surgery you should tell them about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). You should also ask about specific instructions you should follow before and after the surgery. These include:
If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking, as it can interfere with your recovery.
During your surgery, you will receive anesthesia to keep you comfortable and pain free. General anesthesia is the most common type of anesthesia for a colectomy. With this type of anesthesia, you are put into a deep sleep and are unable to see, hear, or feel anything.
It is important to remember that the total cost of this care path does not include all possible medications, lab work or imaging studies. Those charges can add up. If your healthcare provider recommends any lab work or imaging studies, you may need to search for their costs separately.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of colon cancer. Be prepared to discuss your symptoms and how long you have had them.
What should I ask my healthcare provider before having a colectomy?
Do not forget to arrange for transportation to and from the facility and for help at home.
Before you go home, make sure you understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects), what symptoms you should report to your healthcare provider after discharge and follow-up plans. Your surgeon should also communicate with your primary care physician.
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