Colon cancer is, unfortunately, a fairly common disease and is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the Western world. However, fatalities from this form of cancer have been on the decline for the past 15 years, and the reason for this is believed to be the improvements in various treatment methods as well as an increase in regular screenings for the disease.

Chemo and radiotherapies are sometimes used, but colon cancer surgery is the most often used form of treatment of the disease and its six stages. The type of surgery is determined based on a number of factors such as the size and location of the cancerous tumor as well as the patient's general health.

Here are the types of colon cancer surgery performed from the least invasive to the most extensive of procedures and why they may be used.

Colonoscopic excision

The development of the colonoscope, which is a specialized instrument used to examine the colon, has significantly improved the treatment of colorectal cancer over the last three decades. In addition to providing an accurate assessment of the colon, this instrument is also used in the excision of polyps, which is referred to as a polypectomy. This outpatient procedure used to treat colorectal cancer in its earliest stage is performed under local anesthesia and removes small, cancerous adenomas or polyps using the colonoscope.

Local excision

This type of operation for rectal cancer is performed through the anus and removes portions of tissue that contain cancerous cells. The tissues are then sent to pathologists for review to determine the depth or stage of the cancer, which will also indicate if additional treatment may be needed such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Bowel resection

With this type of colon cancer surgery, the procedure is performed through an opening in the abdomen and carefully removes the diseased tissue. Surrounding tissues are also removed to ensure that there are no cancerous cells left behind. The ends of the bowel or intestine are then joined together with sutures, which is a procedure called anastomosis, and the abdomen is then closed with sutures. A temporary colostomy may also be performed during this procedure, particularly in those patients with rectal cancer.

After a period of about 12 weeks, tests are performed to see if the anastomosis has healed properly so that the colostomy opening can be closed and the patient's normal bowel function restored. A colostomy creates an opening in the skin on either side of the abdomen which is known as a stoma. The end of the intestine is stitched to the outside of the opening and waste material then passes through the stoma into a colostomy bag. Due to advancements in colon cancer surgery a colostomy is usually only temporary.

Abdominoperineal excision

This radical form of colon cancer surgery entails the removal of the entire rectum and anal canal. This operation is done only in extreme cases of colorectal cancer when it is not possible to perform other types of less invasive surgery through a local excision. Recent advances in treatments for this type of cancer have made it so the majority of patients won't ever require this type of extreme surgery.

Source by Robert Thatcher