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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.

Recommended Related to Colorectal Cancer

Understanding Colon Cancer -- Diagnosis and Treatment

Beginning at the age of 50, everyone should be screened regularly for colorectal cancer (earlier screening is recommended for some high-risk groups). There are several options. The traditional screening routine was for the doctor to perform a digital rectal exam once a year and for you to collect three stool samples to be tested for traces of blood. Also, every three to five years you would receive a sigmoidoscopy and a double-contrast barium enema to look at the lower part of the bowel. If anything...

Read the Understanding Colon Cancer -- Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    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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