21st Century Bowel Cancer Treatment Options

Picture of Colorectal Cancer Life Size Diorama

Your digestive system is made of up of the rectum and colon. The first 4ft to 5ft is the colon and the last 5 inches is the rectum. The growth of bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer proceeds slowly over the years. It starts as small tissues and then forms lumps. If not treated on time, the cancerous cells can create a path from the bowel to the liver or lungs.

Just like other types of cancer, colorectal cancer is also caused by genes. If your family has a history of cancer, then you are more likely to be afflicted with this disease. Other causes include diet low in fibre and high in fats, Crohn’s disease (inflammation of the colon), ulcerative colitis and smoking. The symptoms that result from this cancer include unexpected weight loss, diarrhoea, constipation, gas cramps, fatigue, vomiting, nausea and blood in the stool.

Types of Treatments for Colorectal Cancer

With so much advancement in technology, there are various treatments that help treat this cancer. At the top of the list, the most preferred treatment option is radiation therapy. Let’s have a look at the below bowel cancer treatment information and the types of treatments:

Surgery

In the early stages, if the cancerous lumps are small, then surgery can be performed. This involves removing the polyps with a flexible colonoscopy. To avoid cutting the abdomen, in order to reach the colon, the devices are inserted via the anus.

Another option is removing the polyps laparoscopically, which involves making 3 to 4 small incisions on the abdomen.

If the cancer is its 3rd stage, then surgeons recommend colectomy. The polyps attached to the colon are cut out along with a small part of the colon from both ends. The gap is sewn with the cancer-free colon ends. If closing is not possible, then the opening is attached to a bag, which is called colostomy. This situation is temporary until the site heals.

Chemotherapy

There are three different forms of chemotherapy, which include:

  1. Neo-Adjuvant: this uses chemotherapy to shrink the size of the tumour, so that further precise steps can be taken.
  2. Adjuvant Chemotherapy: once radiation has been used to kill the tumour, this chemotherapy is used to eliminate the remaining cancer cells.
  3. Systemic Chemotherapy: this therapy is used to inject anti-cancer drugs in the vein that circulate in the bloodstream to treat metastatic cancer.

Targeted Therapy

New blood vessels are the ultimate nourishment for tumours. This therapy targets specific blood vessels and interferes with the supply of blood to stop the tumour from growing and cancerous cells from spreading.

Radiation Therapy

The most popular of these is radiation therapy that uses x-rays with high energy to first shrink the tumour and then destroy the cells. Radiation therapy can be given before or after a surgery and is sometimes combined with chemotherapy for faster results.

  • Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and 3D-Conformal Radiation Therapy

Both these therapies involve external beam radiation. 3D-Conformal Radiation, a device known as “multi-leaf collimator” is used, which maps the tumour and creates a precise beam to kill the cells.

In IMRT, thousands of “beamlets” penetrates the tumour through radiation, which is also precise. This helps protect the surrounding healthy tissue.

  • High Dose-Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy

This internal radiation therapy involves two methods: Endocavitary and Interstitial. In the latter therapy, catheters access the cancer cells by passing through the subcutaneous perineal tissue and deliver radiation.

In the former therapy, the delivery device reaches the tumour through the anus. Tiny radioactive pellets are sent through a machine controlled by a computer. The radiation in delivered at multiple depths for 20 minutes.

The reason why radiation therapy is making such a breakthrough in the cancer department is that the technique allows people to resume their lives after every session and without any worries. So, these are the different bowel cancer treatment options you can go for.

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