Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is colon cancer treatable?"
I'm 49. I was told I have colon cancer. Is this type of cancer usually treatable or is it often untreatable like pancreatic cancer?
This is a complex question and one that would require a long discussion with your colorectal or general surgeon and oncologist. I will try to answer your questions and go over a few basic points. Colon cancer is one of the more treatable cancers if found early on. The stage of the cancer is important in determining how treatable it is. Generally speaking, it has more favorable outcomes and prognosis than Pancreatic cancer. This is in large part because Colon cancer is usually detected earlier in its progression than Pancreatic cancer. If the colon cancer has a low stage (meaning it hasn't spread beyond the colon and has no, or minimal lymph node involvement) then your prognosis is usually very favorable. Many colon cancers are treatable and even curable. The mainstay of colon cancer treatment is surgery. The workup of the colon cancer can involve blood labs, Imaging (usually a CAT scan) and a colonscopy. After surgery to remove all or part of the colon, patients may require chemotherapy. Approximately 70% of all colon cancer undergo resection (surgery) with curative intent. 45% are cured. The other 25% can have a recurrence. That is why it is important to follow up with your doctor to monitor for recurrence. As stated before, this is not a simple question and the answer depends in large part on the stage of your colon cancer. Ask your doctor about your stage and prognosis. Surgery is the most accurate method to stage colorectal cancer. It is highly recommended that you see a General Surgeon or a Colorectal surgeon and formulate a plan of treatment.
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