There are over one hundred forty two thousand new instances of colorectal cancer diagnosed each year. This disease claims the lives of fifty three thousand additional individuals each year. In the last decade there have been developments in the treatment available for patients with colorectal cancer. Since the cancer begins as polyps, if it is found very early it may usually be taken out during a colonoscopy. Once the cancer grows too large to be taken out during a colonoscopy the treatment gets more complicated.
The recommended treatment will be based on the type of colorectal cancer, the stage of the cancer, and issues like the age, other medical conditions, and general wellbeing of the patient. The main treatment for stages I through III is frequently surgery. Laparoscopic surgery has become more common for stage 1 and stage 2 colorectal cancers. There are situations, though, in which surgery might not be recommended. This sometimes happens in some advanced stage III and in some stage IV situations. In some instances patients have to get a colostomy or ileostomy which can alter the person’s quality of life.
Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses drugs which target and kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy improves the prognosis for individuals who have had a surgical procedure to take out the cancer from the colon but are in danger of having the cancer come back. It may additionally be used without surgery. Chemotherapy is, for example, normally suggested for patients with stage III colorectal cancer. Stage III is described by spread to one or more lymph node. Chemotherapy is also used for individuals with stage IV cancer. Stage IV is when there is spread to other organs, such as the liver or lungs. Even though at stage II the cancer has not spread beyond the colon if the person has certain risk factors or is young chemotherapy may nonetheless be advised. A variety of drugs are now frequently part of the chemotherapy regimen were not commonly used only ten years ago.
Chemotherapy may, though, have major side effects. The side effects vary based on a number of factors, including which drugs are administered, how much of the drugs are given, how long the treatment lasts, as well as the age, other medical conditions and general health of the individual. Some of the most prevalent side effects are nausea and vomiting. There are more extreme but rare side effects as well. The treating oncologist can prescribe drugs to help counteract the side effects of the chemotherapy. There are cases where the location and size of the tumors may lead doctors to recommend chemotherapy (and perhaps radiation therapy) as the primary treatment to be followed by surgery if the chemotherapy (and radiation therapy) sufficiently reduces the size and amount of the tumors to make surgery practical.
If the treatment works physicians then put the individual on a monitoring schedule to look for any return of the cancer. Even though blood tests are not used to diagnose colorectal cancer because there are currently no blood tests specific enough to be useful for diagnostic purposes, one blood test is in some cases useful in testing for recurrence. The test, known as the CEA test, checks the level of carcinoembryonic antigen in the patient’s lood. Some, but not all, people with colorectal cancer have high CEA levels. When an individual whose CEA level was high before beginning treatment and had normal CEA levels after effective treatment elevated CEA levels may suggest that the cancer has returned. Other ways of checking include imaging studies such as CT scans and X-rays and other blood tests to look for abnormalities (such as issues developing in the liver – a frequent place of metastasis).
Colorectal cancer can be deadly. Detecting it early appreciably enhances the probability that treatment will kill the cancer. The more the cancer grows and spreads the less likely the patient will be to beat it. Moreover, advising the correct treatment is critical. In the event that a doctor does not offer chemotherapy to a patient with stage III colorectal cancer, for instance, that patient will face a higher likelihood of recurrence.
The above is not to be taken as medical advice. Talk to your physician regarding screening for colorectal cancer and regarding any symptoms or concerns you may have. If a physician did not recommend screening or ignored complaints of symptoms and you were later diagnosed with colorectal cancer, or the doctor did not recommend appropriate treatment, you ought to discuss your situation with a medical malpractice lawyer to see whether you might have a claim.