Colon Cancer Treatment in India
Colon cancer begins when its lining cells turn cancerous and begin to grow uncontrollably to form a tumour. It usually begins as polyps, that are benign. But, if left undetected and untreated, it can become fatal. Colon cancer treatment in India is based upon the stage and extent of spread of the cancer.
Types of Colon Cancer
Before we explore what options are available for colon cancer treatment in India, it is imperative to know the different types of colon cancers.
The colon forms a part of the large intestine and along with the rectum, it is responsible for eliminating waste from the body. When the cancer begins in the lining of the colon, it is termed as colon cancer. But, when it begins in the rectal lining, it is termed as rectal cancer. As mentioned earlier, colon cancer usually begins as polyps and identifying these pre-cancerous polyps helps prevent the development of cancer.
However, around 10% of the colon polyps go undiagnosed and are often the cause of a malignant colon cancer. Most colon cancers are adenocarcinomas. If you are newly diagnosed and need peer to peer support about treatment options and how other patients are coping then it is important to join community networks for colon cancer
Stage-wise Treatment Options
As we move on to explore colon cancer treatment in India, we must be acquainted with the various stages of colon cancer.
The stages of colon cancer are:-
Surgery is the treatment of choice for individuals whose colon cancer has not spread yet metastasised. In many cases, chemotherapy may be advised post-surgery. However, it is important check colon cancer treatment protocol in India as it varies depending upon the stage of the cancer.
Treatment of Stage 0 Cancer
Since these cancers are confined to the colon, they can be easily removed using surgery. During the surgery, the polyps are removed using a colonoscopy and in some cases, a partial colectomy may be done if the tumour is too big for local excision.
Stage 1 Colon Cancer Treatment
Since these cancers are deeper than stage 0 cancers, surgical removal of the polyps along with little surrounding healthy tissue is the treatment of choice. In the case of low grade stage 1 cancers, no treatment is usually required after the surgery.
However, in the case where the polyp is high-grade or there are cancer cells on the edges of the polyp, additional surgery might be needed. Sometimes, the colon cancer may not be in the polyp form, in which case a partial colectomy is required to remove the affected part of the colon, and affected lymph nodes. No further treatment is usually needed.
Stage 2 Colon Cancer Treatment
Many stage 2 cancer spread out of the colon to nearby tissues, but not to the lymph nodes. These cancers are treated by surgical removal of the tumour along with the part of the colon containing it(partial colectomy) along with removal of the nearby lymph nodes. If your doctor finds it essential, he/she may recommend adjuvant therapy like chemotherapy after the surgery, especially if the cancer has a high risk of returning.
However, whether chemotherapy is required in stage 2 cancers is not uniformly accepted by all oncologists.
Stage 3 Colon Cancer Treatment
These cancers have spread to nearby tissues and lymph nodes but not yet to distant parts of the body. The first line of treatment for these cancers is the surgical removal of the cancerous part, which often involves partial colectomy, along with nearby lymph nodes. The surgical phase is usually followed by chemotherapy and is considered standard protocol for colon cancer treatment in India.
However, radiation therapy may be recommended for people who are not fit to undergo a surgery or chemotherapy.
Stage 4 Colon Cancer Treatment
Stage 4 colon cancers are those that have already metastasised to other parts of the body. The most common site they spread to is the liver, but the cancer cells can affect other distant organs like the lungs and brain too.
Since the cancer has spread, only surgery is usually not the treatment choice. Surgery is done to remove the cancerous part of the colon, and the nearby lymph nodes. If there are small foci of cancer in the liver or lungs, these may also be removed by surgery.
In order to treat the metastasised cancer, chemotherapy is recommended before and after the surgery. In many cases where the lesion is too big to be removed by surgery, advanced chemotherapy drugs are used to shrink the tumour in size to facilitate its easy removal.
In case the colon cancer is too big to be removed by surgery, only chemotherapy is given to the patient. The goal of surgery in a colon cancer case can be either to treat the lesion completely or to relieve the symptoms.
The choice of colon cancer treatment in India depends upon multiple factors such as type and grade of cancer, the overall health of the patient, previous treatments undergone, medical history and age of the patient.
As more cases of colon cancer are getting diagnosed top colon cancer experts recommend genetic testing, next generation sequencing & second opinions. These tests provide chemo sensitivity to particular drugs and collaborative working of Indian experts along with international second opinion from top global cancer institutes is improving cancer survivorship.
Always make an informed choice for colon cancer in India as treatment varies and second opinions should be considered as gold standard for this type of cancer.