What faced with a diagnosis of colon cancer at stage 4, these may be your questions: What treatments are possible? Can it be cured?
At 4th stage, the tumor is already metastatic. It would have already spread to distant organs inside your body.
It can't be treated with only one particular treatment. Your doctor will recommend a combination of treatments such as extensive surgery and chemotherapy.
However, the rate of survival can't be guaranteed.
Treatments for colon cancer at stage 4 can vary. Possible types of treatments that your doctor will recommend are the following:
1. Extensive surgery
Surgery involves re-sectioning of your bowel. The cancerous part of the bowel is removed or cut off and the rest of the healthy sections are joined together.
Surgery is one of the major treatments performed for colon cancer at stage 4. But often, it is not enough when it is already metastatic. Surgery is usually recommended to relieve symptoms such as obstruction in the intestines. It can be combined with chemotherapy.
This is one of the possible treatments in lieu of surgery. It is recommended for those with colon cancer at stage 4 who are too weak to undergo surgery.
In dessication, either of the 2 processes to dry out and shrink the metastatic tumor is done:
Again, dessication doesn't cure the metastatic tumor just like the other types of treatments. It only makes the tumor smaller which relieves the symptoms.
This involves one type of chemo drug or a combination of chemo drugs.
Will chemotherapy help the patient with stage 4 or metastatic colon tumor?
If the tumor has invaded only the liver, chemotherapy medicines are administered directly onto the artery that supplies blood to the liver. But at 4th stage, the tumor has definitely moved beyond the liver so the chemo drugs will have no impact on the patient's chance of surviving the disease.
Chemotherapy treatment is now useless for such a metastatic tumor.
4. Ablation or burning of the tumor
Burning reduces the size of the metastatic tumor but ablation, just like the other treatments, doesn't kill it. Again, it is done just to relieve the symptoms and make it bearable for the patient.
Radiation and chemo treatments are usually combined and are directly aimed at the organ where the metastatic tumor has moved into.
Cryotherapy is also called as cryosurgery. It is one of the new treatments that is being evaluated for colorectal tumor. It can be used for internal and external tumors and even precancerous growths. It involves the application of extreme cold to the tumor to kill or destroy it with the use of liquid nitrogen or argon gas.
It can be used together with other treatments such as surgery. The liquid nitrogen or argon gas is delivered through a cryoprobe, which is inserted into the tumor during surgery. It is one of the new treatments for prostate cancer.
For more detailed info about this type of treatment, check out this resource: Cryosurgery: Questions and Answers.
Unfortunately, most cases of metastatic or stage 4 bowel cancer are not curable unlike if it's still at an early stage (either stage 1 or 2).
At the metastatic stage, it has spread further not only to nearby tissues and lymph nodes but also to distant organs such as the liver and the lungs. It is able to go to the liver usually because it is carried by your blood that comes from the intestinal walls and the rectum.
A combination of treatments is necessary to try to kill the tumor, to prevent its further spread and to relieve symptoms or side effects.
Tumors that develop in the bowel grow slowly. Most don't give warning signs so you have to be vigilant and know what symptoms to be aware of. And if you think you have the tendency to develop polyps in your bowel or rectum, be sure that your bowel gets cleaned every often.
Also, get yourself tested. Don't wait for symptoms such as abdominal pains because they already mean metastatic or colon cancer stage 4.
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