Chemotherapy is the use of very strong anticancer drugs to kill colon cancer cells.
Chemotherapy is the use of very strong anticancer drugs to kill colon cancer cells. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment and will address cancer that is in the entire body which is why it is often used to prevent spread or to treat cancer that has already spread. This is not the only reason why chemotherapy is used so if you doctor suggests treatment with chemotherapy drugs do not assume that your cancer has spread and metastesized.
Chemotherapy plays a few roles in the treatment of colon cancer. used to kill colon cancer cells that might have not been removed during surgical removal of the colon cancer. reduces the size of the tumor before surgery is performed used to treat colon cancer by controlling the growth of the tumor. used to relieve some of the symptoms of the colon cancer. reduce the likelyhood of recurrence Chemotherapy is often used after surgery is performed to eliminate cancer cells that may have been left behind and not removed by surgery. The chemotherapy can be administered through an IV (intravenously) or in pill form. Once the chemotherapy drugs enter the bloodstream they can reach cancer cells in all parts of the body. Some studies have shown that using a regimen of hemotherapy after surgery for colon cancer can increase the surivival rates for some stages of colon and rectal cancers.
In patients with advanced colorectal cancer chemotherapy is often useful in relieving the symptoms of the cancer.
Who is given Chemotherapy for Colon Cancer? The general opinion in the medical community differs on whether chemotherapy for Stage II colon cancer will be beneficial to the patient after surgery. It is usually only advisable in very high risk patients.
Adjuvant chemotherapy after surgery is the standard of care for patients with Stage III colorectal cancer. Also patients with Stage IV cancers of the colon or rectum can benefit from the use of chemotherapy as it often will help to shrink the tumor, increase life expectancy and improve the quality of life.
How is Chemotherapy Administered for Colorectal Cancer?
The use of adjuvant chemotherapy typically involves monthly administration of the chemotherapy drugs for usually 6 to 8 months. Usually on or a combination of the following drugs are administered:
5-FU (5-fluorouracil) leucovorin irinotecan oxaliplatin (Eloxatin) The standard adjuvant chemotherapy combination for colon cancer consists of 5-FU and leucovorin.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy can produce some side effects. The type of side effects experiences depends upon the type of chemotherapy drugs used, how much of the drugs are given and the period of time they are administered. The side effects also depend on the individual.
The most common side effects for 5FU :
the feeling of being sick diarrhea sore mouth or mouth ulcers drop in blood cell count overall feeling of tiredness The most common side effects of irinotecan :
increased perspiration increase in the production of saliva watery eyes pain or cramps in the abdomen diarrhea overall feeling of being sick drop in blood cell count overall feeling of tiredness hair thinning or loss The most common side effects of oxaliplatin:
feeling of being sick numbness or tingling of the extremeties numbness in the lips