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Colorectal Cancer - Medications

Chemotherapy is the use of medicines to control the cancer's growth or relieve symptoms. Often the medicines are given through a needle in your vein. Your blood vessels carry the medicines through your body. Sometimes the medicines are available as pills. And sometimes they are given as a shot, or injection.

Several medicines are used to treat colorectal cancer. There are also several medicines available for treating side effects.

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Sigmoidoscopy for Colorectal Cancer Screening

Sigmoidoscopy (SIG-moy-DAH-skuh-pee) enables the physician to look at the inside of the large intestine from the rectum through the last part of the colon, called the sigmoid colon. Physicians may use this procedure to find the cause of diarrhea, abdominal pain, or constipation. They also use sigmoidoscopy to look for early signs of colorectal cancer in the colon and rectum. With sigmoidoscopy, the physician can see bleeding, inflammation, abnormal growths, and ulcers. For the procedure, you...

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Medicine choices

A combination of drugs often works better than a single drug in treating colorectal cancer. The most commonly used drugs are:

Hair loss can be a common side effect with some types of chemotherapy. But hair loss usually isn't a side effect of these drugs.

Treating the side effects

Your doctor may prescribe medicines that can help relieve side effects of chemotherapy. These side effects can include mouth sores, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to control nausea and vomiting.

There also are things you can do at home to manage side effects. See Home Treatment for more information.

What to think about

Chemotherapy and radiation may be combined to treat some types of colorectal cancer. Radiation or chemotherapy given before or after surgery can destroy microscopic areas of cancer to increase the chances of a cure.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 21, 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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