Chemotherapy is a common treatment for colon cancer. It is often used in conjunction with surgery. Sometimes, it is given before an operation to shrink a tumor and make it easier to remove; other times, it is given after an operation to destroy residual cancer cells.
Chemotherapy plays an important role in colon cancer treatment. For treating many other types of cancer, physicians often recommend a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. With colon cancer, however, radiation therapy is only used in a few specific situations, and chemotherapy receives a much greater emphasis.
In many cases, a patient’s chemo prescription includes two or more medications. The most commonly used chemotherapy drugs for colon cancer include:
- 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU)
While receiving chemotherapy, a patient may also receive additional medications to help with the treatment’s side effects. Because chemotherapy drugs target all rapidly dividing cells within the body, these powerful medications can sometimes damage healthy cells along with cancerous cells. This can cause nausea, fatigue, digestive distress and other complications, and supportive care is key to counteracting these issues.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we design each patient’s treatment plan to meet his or her specific needs. Many times, this includes chemotherapy along with one or more other options, such as surgery, targeted therapy, ablation or embolization, as well as supportive care services. A team of medical oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists and supportive care providers collectively determines which treatments offer the most promise, in terms of both outcome and quality of life. The team then reviews the patient’s progress throughout the duration of treatment, adjusting dosages, delivery schedules and other factors as necessary. This individualized approach is just one reason among many that countless patients entrust their treatment to the experts at Moffitt.