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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

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Colorectal Cancer, Metastatic or Recurrent - Other Treatment

Radiation treatment

Radiation treatment uses X-rays to destroy colorectal cancer cells. It is often combined with surgery or chemotherapy. Radiation may also be used to reduce the cancer's size when it is blocking the colon or rectum.

Radiation treatments aren't likely to cure metastatic or recurrent colorectal cancer. But they may ease pain and discomfort, slow the spread of the disease, and help you live longer.

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Fighting colorectal cancer often requires a number of different treatments: chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. No single doctor can handle all aspects of your treatment for colorectal cancer. Here's how to assemble a team of experts to help you.

Read the Specialists Who Treat Colorectal Cancer article > >

Treatment for cancer that has spread to the liver

Sometimes colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver can be removed by surgery. But usually other treatments are needed, such as:

  • Radiofrequency ablation. A small wire that sends out radio waves is inserted into the tumor. The radio waves destroy the cancer that has spread to the liver without harming healthy tissue.
  • Cryosurgery. This may be done in surgery for cancer that has spread to the liver. Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and destroy cancer cells.
  • Embolization. This shrinks a cancer that has spread to the liver by cutting off its blood supply.
  • Interstitial radiation therapy. In this type of internal radiation treatment, radioactive material sealed in needles, wires, seeds, or catheters is placed directly into the tumor or body tissue.
  • Intra-arterial hepatic chemotherapy. The surgeon implants a small pump in the belly that delivers chemotherapy right into the tumor. The pump can be left in place as long as needed.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials are studies that look for new treatments. If you are interested, ask your doctor if there are trials you can take part in. The National Cancer Institute or your local chapter of the American Cancer Society can also help you find clinical trials.

Complementary therapies

People sometimes use complementary therapies along with medical treatment to help relieve symptoms and side effects of treatments. Some of the complementary therapies that may be helpful include:

These treatments may help you feel better. They can make it easier to cope with cancer treatments. They also may reduce chronic low back pain, joint pain, headaches, and pain from treatments.

Before you try a complementary therapy, talk to your doctor about the possible value and side effects. Let your doctor know if you are already using any such therapies. These treatments aren't meant to take the place of standard medical treatment. But they may improve your quality of life and help you deal with the stress and side effects of cancer treatment.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 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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