Radiation therapy is not always used during colon cancer treatment. While there are a few situations in which radiation therapy might be recommended, chemotherapy and surgery play larger roles in the treatment of colorectal cancers.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we evaluate each patient on an individual basis to determine which therapies offer the most promise. Depending on the specifics of a patient’s diagnosis, our oncologists might recommend colon cancer radiation therapy if:
- A tumor has spread into a nearby organ
- A tumor has grown into the membrane that lines the abdomen
- The cancer has spread to the bones or brain
Radiation therapy is rarely the only treatment recommended for patients with colorectal cancer. In most cases, it is provided after surgery to destroy residual cancer cells. Patients who receive radiation therapy after surgery often have better outcomes than patients who undergo surgery without a follow-up treatment.
Whenever colon cancer radiation therapy is administered, there is a chance that healthy cells will be exposed to radiation along with the cancerous ones. However, Moffitt’s radiation oncologists are trained in several advanced delivery techniques that can help minimize radiation exposure to healthy tissues. These include intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), in which each beam is precisely shaped so that it does not penetrate the tissues beneath a tumor, and intraoperative radiation therapy, in which radioactive beams are aimed a cancer site during surgery. Perhaps most importantly, our radiation therapy team has extensive experience in treating cancers of the colon and rectum and has achieved outstanding results with these advanced technologies. As a result, many of our patients experience fewer side effects and an enhanced quality of life.