Colorectal Cancer Radiation Treatment
   
Facts about Colorectal Cancer
Treatment for Colorectal Cancer
External Beam Radiation Therapy
 
FACTS ABOUT COLORECTAL CANCER
Colorectal cancer includes malignant or cancerous tumors of the colon and/or the rectum.

The colon extends from the end of the small intestine to the rectum. It consists of ascending, transverse and descending segments.

The sigmoid colon is roughly S-shaped and is the lower portion of the descending colon, leading into the rectum.

The rectum is part of the digestive system. It makes up the final five inches of the colon.

Colorectal cancer can affect any of these areas.

About 147,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year.
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TREATMENT FOR COLORECTAL CANCER
The primary treatment for cancers of the colon and rectum is surgery. For cancers that have not spread, surgery may cure your cancer without any need for further treatment.
Depending on the location and stage of your cancer, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy reduce the chance of the cancer coming back after surgery.
For rectal cancer, radiation is usually given with chemotherapy. It can be given before (preoperative) or after surgery (postoperative).
For some rectal cancers, preoperative radiation and chemotherapy may allow avoid the need for a permanent colostomy and spare your anal sphincter so that you may continue to go to the bathroom as you currently do.
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EXTERNAL BEAM RADIATION THERAPY
External beam radiation therapy involves a series of daily radiation treatments targeting your tumor. Painless radiation treatments usually last less than 5 minutes but your appointment time is 15-20 minutes each day. Usually radiation treatments are delivered daily, Monday to Friday, for five to six weeks.

The number of treatments may also depend upon several other factors, including tumor size and location, other treatments you are receiving, and other medical conditions. While these treatments are often performed in a hospital, external beam radiation therapy is an outpatient treatment scheduled as conveniently as possible to fit into your daily schedule.
3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) combines multiple radiation treatment fields. Each of the radiation beams accurately focuses on the tumor while trying to minimize nearby healthy tissue receiving radiation.
Possible problems include more frequent bowel movements, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, pressure or discomfort in the rectal area, urinating more often, burning with urination, skin irritation, nausea and fatigue. These are usually temporary and resolve after your treatment ends. However, the likelihood of these symptoms depend upon of many factors that your doctor will discuss with you at the time of your visit.
Chemotherapy side effects will depend on the specific drug you receive.
Many of these side effects can be well controlled with medications and changes to your diet. During treatment, talk to your doctor about any discomfort you feel. He or she may be able to provide medications or other treatments that may help.
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