Cancer is a common chronic disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells in the body that can spread to other organs. It can be effectively treated through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
Treatment depends on the type, stage, location, size, and spread of cancer. Surgery is commonly done to remove tumors, prevent cancer from spreading, and improve patient health and quality of life. But the recovery time may vary from patient to patient.
Read on to learn about colon and rectal cancer surgeries and what to expect during colon cancer surgery recovery.
What Is Colon and Rectal Cancer?
Colon and rectal cancer, or colorectal cancer, develops when cells lining the colon or rectum grow uncontrollably. The colon is part of your large intestine, and the rectum is part of the colon that joins the anus. Colorectal cancer starts as small clumps or growths called polyps. Polyps may be harmless, but they can grow cancerous over time.
The precise cause of colorectal cancer is unknown. But doctors have identified risk factors like:
- Age over 50 years
- Family history
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Excessive processed or red meat consumption
- Smoking and drinking alcohol
- Sedentary lifestyle
Colorectal cancer symptoms include bowel changes, bloody stool, abdominal pain, and sudden weight loss. Some may not show signs until the later stages.
Colorectal cancer diagnosis involves colonoscopy, imaging, biopsy, and blood tests. However, early diagnosis can help detect colorectal cancer in the polyp stage before the cells become cancerous. Doctors recommend regular screening after age 45 to prevent colorectal cancer.
What Surgeries Are Available to Treat Colon and Rectal Cancer?
The following surgical options are available to treat colon and rectal cancer:
- Colectomy to remove cancer from the colon
- Polypectomy to remove cancerous polyps
- Transanal excision to cut layers of the rectal lining and remove the cancer
- Low anterior resection to remove rectal cancer close to the colon
- Proctectomy and colo-anal anastomosis to remove the entire rectum and connect the colon to the anus, respectively
- Coloplasty to enlarge a portion of the colon to allow bowel movement
- Abdominoperineal resection to remove rectal cancer close to the anus
- Pelvic exenteration to remove the rectum and nearby organs affected by cancer
- Diverting colostomy to remove blockages without removing the cancer
Colon Cancer Surgery Recovery
Colon cancer surgery recovery time can vary among patients. Doctors recommend a hospital stay for a few days after surgery to ensure recovery and patient well-being. Typically, you may need 3 to 6 weeks to recover at home.
What to expect
During colorectal cancer surgery recovery, you may experience some pain. Your doctor will prescribe pain-relief medicines or injections. You may also have to wear compression socks to improve blood circulation in your legs.
You won’t be able to eat solid food after surgery as the treated area needs time to heal. You’ll be given liquids and nutritional supplements instead. You can resume eating solid food within a few days.
Your healthcare team may encourage you to walk the next day after surgery. However, you must avoid lifting heavy things throughout your recovery period. You’ll also need to visit your doctor for timely follow-ups to ensure proper recovery.
Possible side effects
Colorectal cancer surgery risks include bleeding, infections at the treatment site, and blood clots in your legs during or after the operation. Your doctor will ensure your safety to minimize the risk of side effects.
Colorectal cancer is easily treatable if it is localized. The overall 5-year survival rate for people with colon cancer is 64%, and that for rectal cancer is 67%. However, the survival rate may vary based on the cancer stage or how much cancer has spread.
Colorectal Cancer Screening at NVSCC
Colorectal cancer is a preventable condition if detected early. If you wish to start regular screenings, NVSCC’s qualified healthcare professionals are here to assist you with tests and medical advice in your pursuit of well-being. So, book an appointment with NVSCC today.