Many colon and rectal cancers can be cured by surgical removal of the tumor. Other cancers may require the addition of radiation and/or chemotherapy to cure the cancer. The radiation and chemotherapy is occasionally given prior to an operation but more likely, it is after the operation.
The removal of a segment of colon does not usually require the patient to have a colostomy, as long as the bowel can be cleaned out properly before the operation. Recovery time is usually 3-5 days in the hospital and roughly two weeks at home. However, everyone’s recovery times are different and this is somewhat difficult to predict.
Risks of colon cancer resections include but are not limited to infections, damage to internal organs including the ureter (tube that drains the kidney of urine), breakdown or narrowing of the hook up, and recurrence of the cancer. One of the most common problems after colon cancer surgery is frequent bowel movements. This usually resolves over time and does not usually require long-term medical treatment. Your surgeon will discuss these issues with you at the time of your preoperative appointment.
Remember, colon cancer can grow very large without any warning. It can be picked up earlier with routine screening colonoscopy. This allows for a higher cure rate of colon cancer. We recommend routine screening starting at age 50 for people with average risk. Ask your primary doctor for recommendations.