Colon cancer treatment usually involves surgery, but you may need to have some other treatments too. One of the treatments that may be used in conjunction with surgery is chemotherapy.
When is Chemotherapy Used?
Chemotherapy can help to make your colon cancer treatment more successful. Surgery can be very effective at removing cancer, but if any cancer cells are left behind they could regrow the tumour and spread to other parts of your body. Chemotherapy can reduce the chances of this happening. Sometimes the chemotherapy will be performed before the surgery, to shrink the tumour and make it easier to remove. In other cases, your doctor might want to give you chemotherapy after you have had the tumour removed. This can kill any cancer cells that might have been left behind, reducing the risk of recurrence.
What Happens During Chemotherapy?
If you do need chemotherapy as part of your colon cancer treatment, you will usually be given a combination of drugs either as tablets or through a drip. You will be treated in cycles of about two to three weeks, during which you will need to take tablets or undergo the intravenous treatment, which can take many hours. You will usually need several cycles of chemotherapy over the course of about six months, but you will be given a break to recover from each cycle of treatment. The chemotherapy drugs will kill cancer cells, but they can also damage some of your other fast growing cells so you may experience some side effects. You might feel sick and tired, have diarrhoea, tingling sensations, or mouth ulcers. You could also lose your hair, but this is a less common side effect of colon cancer treatment. You will also be more vulnerable to infections during the treatment, so you will need to take a little extra care of yourself while you are being treated.