When is Surgery the Best Option for Colon Cancer

Oct 12, 2022
When is Surgery the Best Option for Colon Cancer
If you’ve been diagnosed with colon cancer, there are several treatment options available. Doctors often treat this cancer effectively, even in later stages. When is surgery the best treatment option for you? Read on to find out.

A colon cancer diagnosis can be startling and sudden. Planning the next steps can be daunting, but we’re here to help.

Every year, more than 600,000 Americans have colon operations. Our team of experts at Lenox Hill Surgeons, LLP in Manhattan's Lenox Hill neighborhood provides colon surgery using cutting-edge robotic surgery techniques. You heal more quickly and with less pain using this specialized small incision technique.

This blog provides information on colon surgery and when it’s the best option for cancer patients. 

When surgery is the best option

Most colon cancer patients are candidates for surgery. Our physicians consider several factors, such as your colon cancer stage and the size and location of the cancer, before determining if surgery is best for you.

Colon cancer stage

The earlier colon cancer is discovered, the greater the chances of recovery. Using staging information, our providers at Lenox Hill Surgeons, LLP determine the cancer's location and whether it has spread outside the colon. This helps us assist you in choosing and planning the best course of treatment.

Surgery to remove the cancer is frequently the only treatment required for stage 0 colon cancers because they have not spread past the colon's inner lining. Most of the time, a colonoscope can be used to remove the polyp or the cancerous area (local excision). 

Cancer in stages 1 and 2 is limited to the colon's wall and possibly nearby tissue. Stage 3 cancer has not yet spread to other body parts but has spread from the colon to nearby lymph nodes. Colon surgery is typically the best treatment for colon cancer stages 1 to 3. 

Colon cancers in stage 4 have spread to distant organs and tissues from the colon. Surgery typically has little chance of curing these cancers. However, surgery might be helpful if there are only a few minor spots of cancer spread (metastases) in the liver or lungs that can be removed along with the colon cancer. Surgery is usually followed by chemotherapy.

Size and location of colon cancer

If you have lesions or cancer in certain spots along the sides of your colon, you may benefit more from specific surgical procedures. Before deciding on a treatment course, our specialists consider the location, size, and number of lesions.

Minimally invasive surgery for colon cancer

Our team offers treatment using the advanced da Vinci® surgical system, enabling gentle intervention without major surgery. This minimally invasive surgery requires fewer incisions than open surgery. 

Patients who undergo minimally invasive procedures experience:

  • A shorter recovery period
  • Less pain
  • Less need for pain medications
  • Fewer visits to the hospital
  • A speedier return to work and normal activities

Using laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgery results in fewer scars, minimal blood loss and pain, rapid mobilization, and early discharge from the hospital.

Colon surgery process

Traditional colon surgery requires a 6-8 inch incision, allowing enough space for the surgeon to view the whole colon and remove it using standard surgical tools.    

Robotic and laparoscopic surgery uses a very different approach, with far smaller incisions (usually half-an-inch wide). Our surgeons still control the entire surgery using the da Vinci system, but they use robotic arms and a nearby console.    

A miniature camera enters a small incision, transmitting a live video feed to a nearby monitor. Surgeons control the robotic arms to remove all or part of your colon while viewing the monitor.

In some cases, it may make sense to have chemotherapy or combined radiation and chemotherapy before or after the operation. This fights cancer cells still in the body and reduces the risk of colon cancer returning. 

Contact our board-certified surgeons at Lenox Hill Surgeons, LLP. Our specialists are leaders in robotic surgery. Call our office today to learn more about colon surgery or other treatment options.