University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center Tailors Chemotherapy to Meet Unique Needs of Colorectal Cancer Patients

UH Seidman Cancer Center offers a multitude of treatment options, including chemotherapy, for patients with colorectal cancer. Chemotherapy is a drug treatment used to control or slow the progression of colorectal cancer and is typically administered to patients with an advanced stage of the disease.

Chemotherapy works throughout the body via the patient’s bloodstream and destroys cancer cells that have spread (metastasized) from the colon or rectum to other areas of the body including the bones, lymph nodes or organs like the liver and lungs. The drugs circulate throughout the patient’s body and can kill rapidly growing cancerous and noncancerous cells. Chemotherapy drugs are carefully controlled in dosage and frequency so that cancer cells are destroyed and the risk to healthy cells is minimized.

Preoperative Chemotherapy and Radiation for Rectal Cancers

Some patients with rectal cancer may benefit from a course of radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy to shrink a tumor and make it easier to remove. Rectal tumors are very close to other organs and vital structures in the pelvis such as the bladder, major blood vessels and nerves. They are also close to the anal sphincter muscles, which allow individuals to control their bowel function. Shrinking these tumors before surgery allows us to more safely and completely remove them.

Studies have shown that using preoperative chemotherapy and radiation for certain rectal tumors can lessen cancer recurrence and increase the likelihood of anal sphincter muscle preservation, which prevents the need for a permanent colostomy. Thus, when administered in combination, these treatments may decrease the recurrence and increase the cure rate of many colorectal tumors. Combined therapies (chemotherapy and radiation) are designed to eradicate the cancer while increasing the chance that bowel, bladder, sexual function and overall quality of life will be preserved.

Postoperative Chemotherapy

Depending on the stage of the colorectal cancer, UH Seidman Cancer Center multidisciplinary team may recommend chemotherapy for treatment. Sometimes, our medical oncologist will recommend chemotherapy prior to surgery and in combination with radiation for rectal tumor treatment. However, chemotherapy is more commonly administered following colon cancer surgery. UH Seidman Cancer Center medical oncology team discusses with patients the many options that are available, including potential side effects and benefits. Modern chemotherapy regimens are typically well-tolerated and are tailored to the individual’s needs.

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