How Is Colorectal Cancer Treated?

Colorectal cancer treatment often includes several different therapies. Surgery may be used to remove cancerous cells from the body, while chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy can be used to destroy abnormal cells that remain after surgery. However, every person’s situation is unique, and several different factors can influence the specific options that a treatment team recommends.

The most common therapies for colorectal cancer

Common colorectal cancer treatment options include:

  • Surgery, in which a gastrointestinal surgeon removes cancerous cells and/or precancerous polyps from the colon, rectum and nearby lymph nodes
  • Chemotherapy, in which a medical oncologist prescribes a medication (or combination of medications) to destroy rapidly dividing cells throughout the body
  • Targeted therapy, in which a medical oncologist prescribes non-chemotherapeutic drugs (such as immunotherapy medications) to specifically seek out cancerous cells and destroy them while leaving healthy cells unaffected
  • Radiation therapy, in which a radiation therapist delivers a targeted stream of high-energy radiation to a tumor to damage the cancerous cells

Factors that can influence your treatment plan

Two of the most important factors that oncologists consider when developing a colorectal cancer treatment plan are the stage and location of the cancer. Surgery may not be the best option for addressing cancer that has spread to distant organs, and tumors that are located in certain parts of the colon or rectum may treated with internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy) rather than external beam radiation therapy (EBRT).

The specific cellular makeup of a tumor can also influence its treatment. Certain chemotherapy medications, for instance, are more effective for addressing tumors that carry specific proteins on their surface.

The colorectal cancer treatment team at Moffitt Cancer Center provides every patient with a completely individualized plan. Our patient-centric approach to practicing precision medicine helps us produce the best possible outcomes, while also enabling our patients to maintain a high quality of life. And, we encourage our patients to be actively involved with their treatment, welcoming questions and providing tailored explanations at every step of the way.

If you’d like to request an appointment with Moffitt’s colorectal cancer treatment team, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online. You can do so with or without a physician’s referral.