Treating Colon Cancer

Virginia Mason's Interdisciplinary Approach

Nurse comforting patient

Virginia Mason's team of specialists in Seattle includes surgeons, gastroenterologists, radiologists, pathologists, medical and radiation oncologists. Patients also receive support from a team of skilled nurses, social workers, psychologists, dietitians and enterostomal therapists, all of whom have advanced education in caring for patients with cancer.

These specialists work together to ensure coordinated care, good communication and an aggressive but individualized approach to treatment.

Advances in Chemotherapy for Colon Cancer

Over the last decade, there have been major advances in the effectiveness of chemotherapy for patients with colorectal cancer. Multiple studies have demonstrated improved survival and improved quality of life in patients using newer chemotherapy agents and protocol. Studies are ongoing to further improve treatment for these patients.

Surgery for Colon Cancer

The majority of patients with colon cancer undergo surgery with removal of the tumor and anastomosis or reconnection of the colon as the first step of their treatment. This is primarily done through a minimally invasive approach that allows patients a faster recovery. Few patients are treated before surgery with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. If the tumor has ruptured or blocked the intestines at the time of presentation, emergency surgery and a temporary colostomy may be necessary. Also, the Gastrointestinal Cancer Team at Virginia Mason now has technology which permits "stenting" of obstructing tumors, thus making emergency surgery for obstructing colon cancers very infrequent.

For more information about colon cancer care at Virginia Mason, please call (206) 341-0060.