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Colon Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview for Colon Cancer

Table 6. Standard Treatment Options for Stages 0–III Colon Cancer

Stage (TNM Staging Criteria)Standard Treatment Options
Stage 0 Colon CancerSurgery
Stage I Colon CancerSurgery
Stage II Colon CancerSurgery
Stage III Colon CancerSurgery
Adjuvant chemotherapy

Table 7. Treatment Options for Stage IV and Recurrent Colon Cancer

Stage (TNM Staging Criteria)Treatment Options
Treatment of Liver MetastasisSurgery
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy
Local ablation
Adjuvant chemotherapy
Intra-arterial chemotherapy
Treatment of Stage IV and Recurrent Colon CancerSurgery
Chemotherapy and targeted therapy
Second-line chemotherapy

Primary Surgical Therapy

Standard treatment for patients with colon cancer has been open surgical resection of the primary and regional lymph nodes for localized disease.

The role of laparoscopic techniques [1,2,3,4] in the treatment of colon cancer has been examined in two studies.

Evidence (laparoscopic techniques):

  1. A multicenter, prospective, randomized, noninferiority trial (NCCTG-934653) compared laparoscopic-assisted colectomy (LAC) with open colectomy in 872 patients.
    • At a median follow-up of 4.4 years, 3-year recurrence rates (16% LAC vs. 18% open colectomy; hazard ratio [HR] for recurrence, 0.86; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.63–1.17; P = .32) and 3-year overall survival (OS) rates (86% LAC vs. 85% open colectomy; HR for death in LAC, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.68–1.21; P = .51) were similar in both groups for all stages of disease evaluated. Tumor recurrence in surgical incisions was less than 1% for both groups.[5][Level of evidence: 1iiA]
    • Decreased hospital stay (5 days LAC vs. 6 days open colectomy, P < .001) and decreased use of analgesics were reported in the LAC group. A 21% conversion rate from LAC to open procedure was shown.
    • This study excluded patients with locally advanced disease, transverse colon and rectal tumor locations, and perforated lesions. Each of the 66 surgeons participating in the trial had performed at least 20 LACs and were accredited for study participation after independent videotape review assured appropriate oncologic and surgical principles were maintained.[5] The quality-of-life component of this trial was published separately and minimal short-term quality-of-life benefits with LAC were reported.[6][Level of evidence: 1iiC]
  2. One small, single-institution randomized study of 219 patients showed that the LAC procedure was independently associated with reduced tumor recurrence on multivariate analysis.[7][Level of evidence: 1iiB]

Surgery is curative in 25% to 40% of highly selected patients who develop resectable metastases in the liver and lung. Improved surgical techniques and advances in preoperative imaging have allowed for better patient selection for resection.

Adjuvant Chemotherapy

The potential value of adjuvant chemotherapy for patients with stage II colon cancer is controversial. Pooled analyses and meta-analyses have suggested a 2% to 4% improvement in OS for patients treated with adjuvant fluorouracil (5-FU)–based therapy compared with observation.[8,9,10] (Refer to the Stage II Colon Cancer Treatment section of this summary for more information.)

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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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