Chemotherapy is a common treatment option for patients with stage III or stage IV colorectal cancer. Chemotherapy drugs work to either destroy cancer cells outright, or impede their ability to grow and reproduce. This type of colorectal cancer treatment is usually administered through a vein or the hepatic artery.
When given as an adjuvant therapy (i.e., additional treatment following colorectal cancer surgery), chemotherapy can:
- Help destroy colorectal cancer cells that remain after surgery
- Prevent colorectal cancer from spreading to other parts of the body (e.g., liver)
- Help lower the risk of cancer recurrence
Chemotherapy given prior to colorectal cancer surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) can help reduce the size of tumors. If you have rectal cancer, this type of treatment may be particularly helpful. Our oncologists may recommend a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, followed by rectal cancer surgery.
In addition to chemotherapy for colorectal cancer, our medical oncologists use targeted therapies, such as monoclonal antibodies. Some of the most recent, promising advances in colorectal cancer treatment have been in targeted therapies.
What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs designed to slow or stop the growth of rapidly dividing cancer cells in the body. It may be used:
- As a primary treatment to destroy cancer cells
- Before another treatment to shrink a tumor
- After another treatment to destroy any remaining cancer cells
- To relieve symptoms of advanced cancer
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our medical oncologists are experienced in delivering targeted, individualized chemotherapy options while also proactively managing side effects..
Chemotherapy delivery methods
Some chemotherapy delivery methods include:
- Orally (by mouth as a pill or liquid)
- Intravenously (by infusion into a vein)
- Topically (as a cream on the skin)
- Direct placement (via a lumbar puncture or device placed under the scalp)
When chemotherapy drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach cells throughout the body, it is called systemic chemotherapy. When chemotherapy drugs are directed to a specific area of the body, it is called regional chemotherapy.
Experienced care team
For most of our patients, a medical oncologist serves as their primary doctor. Our medical oncologists specialize in diagnosing cancer and delivering chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy and/or hormone therapy. They will work closely with you and the rest of your care team to discuss chemotherapy options based on your individual needs.
Individualized treatment approach
When you arrive at the hospital, your medical oncologist will review your medical history and perform a full diagnostic evaluation, then present you with a treatment plan based on your specific diagnosis.
Chemotherapy is an important part of treatment for many of our patients. Our physicians use leading treatment protocols and practice evidence-based medicine. In some cases, we may use innovative delivery methods to treat certain types of cancer.
We strive to find the right chemotherapy drug, or combination of drugs, for each person. We may use tests, such as tumor molecular profiling, to identify an appropriate drug combination for your disease and help you avoid unnecessary toxicity.
If chemotherapy is part of your treatment plan, your medical oncologist will coordinate your dosage and schedule. You may receive chemotherapy alone, or in combination with other treatment modalities like targeted therapies, surgery and/or radiation therapy.
Throughout your treatment, your medical oncologist will monitor the effectiveness of your chemotherapy regimen and modify your treatment plan accordingly.