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Colon Cancer Chemotherapy  

Colon cancer chemotherapy is a form of treatment in which powerful drugs are used to kill cancer cells which have developed in the colon or have spread to other parts of the body.  This type of treatment will be discussed further as well as some expected benefits and side effects which may occur. 

Colon cancer chemotherapy is used to bring special drugs into the body which are designed to recognize rapidly growing cells, attack and kill them.  Since cancer cells grow much faster than normal cells, this can be a very effective way to help to slow the progression or even cure the disease. 

But since these drugs also tend to affect other fast growing cells which are healthy, it can also cause unwanted side effects.  Since fast growing cells can include hair cells and cells lining the stomach, the use of this course of treatment can cause a person’s hair to fall out as well as nausea and vomiting. 

Colon cancer chemotherapy can be used in different ways depending on the stage of the disease and other factors.  For example primary chemotherapy can be used when the colon cancer has advanced to the point where surgery would not be effective in removing all traces of the cancer.  So chemotherapy would be used to reduce the size of the cancerous area, help to alleviate symptoms and extend the life of the patient as long as possible. 

Adjuvant chemotherapy is used as an additional treatment option following surgery.  It can be helpful in eliminating any remaining cancer cells which the surgery was unable to reach and remove.  It can help to prevent a reoccurrence of cancer in that part of the body. 

And neoadjuvant chemotherapy may be used to help shrink the cancerous tumor before surgery.  This would help to make the surgical procedure less invasive and more successful in the long run.  This type of treatment may also be given in conjunction with radiation therapy since it tends to make the radiation treatment more effective in colon cancer patients. 

There are a number of drugs which have been found to be of benefit in treating colon cancer through chemotherapy. They may include the following: 

  • 5-Fluorouacil is the commonly used of all drugs for the treatment of colon cancer. This drug may be used for colon cancer which is localized as well as cancer which has spread to other organs. It has also been used in conjunction with other drugs and can be delivered to the body either orally or intravenously. 
  • A number of other drugs like Camptosar, Eloxatin, Vastin, Erbitus, and Vectibix have had good success in treating forms of colon cancer which has spread. It is not necessarily a cure but can greatly slow the progression of the disease and provide a much better quality of life. 

In addition to some of the side effects associated with colon cancer chemotherapy, problems including a loss of appetite, sores in the mouth, rashes on the hands and feet and diarrhea can often occur during treatment. As indicated earlier these side effects tend to go away once treatment has stopped. 


External Reading: cancereffects.com