If you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, we know how worrisome it can be. But the good news is that colorectal cancer is one of the most treatable cancers. Central Maine Healthcare wants to help you by providing all the compassionate care and support you need to fight this disease.
Treatments We Offer
The type of treatment your doctor recommends depends largely on the size and stage of the cancer (early or advanced), as well as your overall health, personal preferences and potential side effects. Our team will work with you to create a plan that you’re completely comfortable with and will focus on keeping you feeling well at every step.
Your personal treatment plan may include one or a combination of:
Surgery to remove the tumor is the most common treatment for colorectal cancer, especially the early stages. Part of the healthy colon or rectum and nearby lymph nodes may also be removed.
If the cancer is small and completely contained within a polyp, your doctor may be able to completely remove it during the screening colonoscopy which has less complications and faster recovery, with a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure, using just a few small incisions in the abdomen.
If the cancer has grown into or through your colon, you may need a procedure called a colectomy, in which the part of your colon that contains the cancer is removed, along with a margin of normal tissue on either side of the cancer.
Many colostomy can be less often, some people may need a temporary or permanent colostomy after surgery. This is a surgical opening through which the colon is connected to the abdominal surface to allow waste to exit the body. This waste is collected in a pouch worn by the patient. Our specially trained ostomy nurses can help learn how to manage the pouch and make any lifestyle adjustments.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays (like X-rays) to shrink or kill cancer cells and help prevent recurrence of the disease. The rays can be specifically directed at the part of the body where the cancer is located, and is commonly used to treat colorectal cancer because the tumor tends to recur near where it originally started. It can also be combined with chemotherapy to increase effectiveness.
External-beam radiation therapy is another therapy we use at Central Maine Healthcare to fight colorectal cancer. With this treatment, a machine is used to precisely deliver a high dose of radiation to a small area.
For some people, internal radiation therapy may help get rid of areas that have spread to the liver when surgery is not an option. Brachytherapy is an example of this sort of radiation therapy. It uses radioactive “seeds” placed inside the body to treat the cancer.
Chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells with medicines delivered in varied cycles through either an IV or a pill. It may be used to shrink a tumor before surgery, to kill cancer cells that remain in the body after surgery or radiation or to treat tumors that have developed in other areas of the body. Chemotherapy for colorectal cancer is usually given after surgery if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes, which may reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence. For advanced cancer that is no longer curable, chemo be used to help shrink tumors and relieve symptoms.
Typically used for people with advanced colorectal cancer, targeted drug therapy works to block specific genes and proteins that allow cancer cells to grow, while limiting damage to healthy cells.
Some patients with advanced colorectal cancer may benefit from immunotherapy, which uses medicines to help a person’s own immune system find and destroy cancer cells.
Central Maine Healthcare Treats the Whole You
We help you in your battle against cancer by providing extra support along the way. Our nurse navigators, for example, guide all our cancer patients through their treatments and direct them to a variety of supportive resources including:
The Arbor House, a hospitality house near the Central Maine Medical Center campus, provides free accommodations for patients traveling a long distance for medical treatments, and for families visiting loved ones who are hospitalized.
The Dempsey Center offers a wide variety of free services to individuals and families impacted by cancer, including massage, counseling and nutrition consultations.
And when a patient’s cancer care needs require something special, Central Maine Healthcare and the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, working together, provide streamlined access to state-of-the-art services.
Find a Colorectal Specialist Near You
Central Maine Medical Center