Colorectal Cancer Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs that either kill cancer cells or prevent them from dividing. Chemotherapy is given intravenously or in a pill form. It’s a systemic treatment meaning it enters your bloodstream and reaches all areas of the body. Chemotherapy is useful for cancers that have spread to other areas of your body.

Today, almost all chemotherapy is given as an outpatient, meaning you do not have to be in the hospital. Nausea associated with chemotherapy is minimal now due to new anti-nausea medications. Within the last three years, several new chemotherapy drugs for colon cancer have become available.

Adjuvant Treatment

After surgery, the tissue that has been removed is looked at under the microscope. This will help determine the cancer’s stage. If the cancer is large or has spread to lymph nodes, even though no remaining cancer can be seen, it’s possible that some remaining cancer cells may be left behind or may have already spread to other areas. When this is the case, doctors may recommend additional treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to try to prevent the cancer from recurring.

Neoadjuvant Treatment

Neoadjuvant treatment is given before surgery to shrink the tumor and improve the results of surgery and to help prevent the tumor from coming back in that area. For some rectal tumors, chemotherapy may be combined with radiation therapy before surgery.