Colon Cancer Surgery Treatments

What You Need To Know About Colon Cancer Surgery

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Colon surgery is the most common treatment for colon cancer, which is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. 

Colon Cancer

Most cases of colon cancer start off as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time, some of these polyps become colon cancers.

Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms. 

Causes of Colon Cancer

It is not often clear what causes colon cancer.

Doctors know that colon cancer occurs when healthy cells in the colon change. When healthy cells become damaged and cancerous, they continue to divide — even when new cells aren't needed. These cancer cells can invade and destroy normal tissue nearby. And cancerous cells can travel to other parts of the body.

Inherited gene mutations that increase the risk of colon cancer can be passed through families, but these inherited genes are linked to only a small percentage of colon cancers. Inherited gene mutations don't always equate to a cancer diagnosis but they can increase an person's risk of cancer significantly.

In ideal situations, where the cancer is found at a very early stage, a doctor can remove the tumor with a colonoscope. Most of the time, however, colon surgery is required.

Surgical Resection

When cancer is identified at a later stage, treatment usually requires the kind of colon surgery you tend to think of when you hear the word "surgery."

The standard procedure is called a surgical resection. In a resection, a surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen, removes the tumor, then reconnects the colon so it's one piece again -- one long, healthy piece. (Find a colon surgeon.)


An ostomy is another type of colon surgery and is basically a detour for your intestines.

Waste normally travels through the colon into the rectum, then is released through the anus during defecation.

An ostomy bypasses the rectum altogether and instead, waste material leaves the intestine through a port in the abdomen, and moves into a colostomy bag on the outside of the body. Some ostomies are permanent. Others are temporary detours that give part of your body a chance to heal before you use it again.

For information about other ways to treat colon cancer, please read Colon Cancer Treatment Options. You may also want to explore the colon surgery research section of this site.


"Detailed Guide: Colon and Rectum Cancer: How Is Colorectal Cancer Treated?" American Cancer Society 22 Feb. 2006. Accessed 21 Jul. 2007 [].

Mayo Clinic. Colon Cancer. [

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