Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Colorectal Cancer Treatment


Surgery is the most common form of treatment for colorectal cancer. It may be used to diagnose, treat and even prevent cancer.

A doctor may remove the cancer through local excision, resection or resection and colostomy. A biopsy can be performed on an outpatient basis. When surgery is used for treatment, the cancer and some of the adjacent tissue are usually removed. Surgery also can be helpful in collecting information to predict whether or not the cancer will come back. Learn more about surgery options at Northside.


Chemotherapy may be given to assist in killing cancer cells. Treatment given after surgery is called adjuvant therapy. Chemotherapy involves the use of medicine to treat cancer. More than half of all people diagnosed with cancer receive chemotherapy. The thought of having chemotherapy may be frightening, but for millions of people, this approach is effective and gets them back to enjoying full, productive lives. Many side effects once associated with chemotherapy can now be prevented or controlled, allowing people to go on with their normal activities during treatment. Chemotherapy may be administered intravenously, injected into a body cavity, or delivered orally in the form of a pill.

At Northside's Infusion Centers, chemotherapy is dispensed on an outpatient basis by registered nurses who are certified in chemotherapy administration. These nurses also provide ongoing physical assessments.

Radiation Therapy

Some patients may need radiation, a treatment using high energy X-rays or radiation, to kill cancer cells. Nearly two-thirds of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy. Like surgery, radiation therapy is a localized treatment used to eradicate cancerous tissue. It may be externally or internally delivered.  Radiation may be used alone, or in conjunction with other types of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and surgery. Learn more about radiation therapy at Northside.

In colorectal cancers, External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) can be used to destroy cancer cells. It can focus a beam of radiation through a machine called a linear accelerator (linac). This beam of radiation is called photon energy. The energy produced by the linac can be directed to any shape or angle of the tumor. It is a very precise method of delivering the high energy to the cancer cells. The goal is to treat the cancer but minimize the radiation exposure to the surrounding tissues.

EBRT is given on a daily basis for approximately six weeks. The patient ends up being in the department approximately 30 minutes per day. Many times the radiation is given in conjunction with chemotherapy prior to surgery.

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is computer software that helps the radiation oncologist to plan the delivery of radiation to a tumor using a 3-D rendition of the tumor. The exact shape of the tumor is determined from a CT scan, MRI, or PET scan. The computer helps the radiation oncologist to giver higher doses than ever before. It is an accurate placement of the radiation and is far superior to conventional radiation therapy.

Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) is a method used to follow the position of a tumor. Many organs can move within the body. IGRT allows us to visualize the position of a tumor (or organ) in real-time. By using this method the radiation oncologist is able to adapt the position of the radiation beam at the precise moment the patient is being treated. 

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are studies that involve people and are a critical part of oncology research. These studies test new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, or treat cancer. Northside's Research Program is one of the largest community-based oncology/hematology programs in the nation. It is one of only a handful of programs that offers Phase I-IV clinical research. People who take part in cancer clinical trials have an opportunity to contribute to scientists’ knowledge about cancer and to help in the development of improved cancer treatments. They also receive state-of-the-art care from cancer experts. Learn more about Clinical Trials at Northside.

Hormonal Therapy

When cancer arises in areas of the body such as the breast or prostate tissue, its growth may be caused by hormones. Hormones stimulate the growth of hormone sensitive tissues, and therefore, drugs that block or change the way hormones work, can fight some cancers. Removal of organs that secrete hormones, such as the ovaries or testicles, may also prove as effective treatment for hormone-stimulated cancers.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapies are designed to only treat the cancer cells, and therefore, minimize damage to normal, healthy cells. In order to become cancer cells, healthy cells must go through a process called carcinogenesis. Targeted therapy disrupts this process and the cellular changes necessary for development and growth.

Biological Therapy

Biological therapy, also called immunotherapy, uses the body’s immune system to treat cancer. Unlike chemotherapy, radiation, or targeted therapy that fights cancer cells directly, biological therapy helps the immune system to fight cancer cells.

Need help getting to your next appointment? Learn more about Northside Hospital's Colorectal Cancer Transportation Assistance Program.


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