Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer begins in the colon or rectum. These can be referred to as colon cancer or rectal cancer depending on the location. Most colorectal cancers begin as an abnormal growth on the inner lining of the colon or rectum, also known as a polyp. Polyps can change into cancer over time, but not all cases become cancerous. Colorectal cancer spreads when a polyp grows into the wall of the colon or rectum over time. The wall of the colon and rectum is formed by multiple layers, however, colorectal cancer starts in the innermost layer and grows outward.

According to the American Cancer Society, if you exclude skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. However, due to early screening options and changes in lifestyle-related risk factors, the rate of people being diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer each year has dropped overall since the mid-1980s.

At Laurel Cancer Care, we understand how hard it can be to choose the perfect team for the treatment of colorectal cancer. It’s important to have the very latest treatment options with highly trained professionals in a comfortable and caring setting, close to your home. You deserve exceptional and compassionate care and Laurel Cancer Care will be an integral part of your journey to survivorship.

Possible side effects of colorectal radiation therapy:

  • Skin irritation at the site where radiation beams were aimed, which can range from redness to blistering and peeling
  • Problems with wound healing if radiation was given before surgery
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rectal irritation, which can cause diarrhea, painful bowel movements, or blood in the stool
  • Bowel incontinence (stool leakage)
  • Bladder irritation, which can cause problems like feeling like you must go often (called frequency), burning or pain while urinating, or blood in the urine
  • Fatigue/tiredness
  • Sexual problems (erection issues in men and vaginal irritation in women)
  • Scarring, fibrosis (stiffening), and adhesions that cause the tissues in the treated area to stick to each other
How do we treat colorectal cancer?

Radiation therapy uses powerful energy sources, such as X-rays and protons, to kill cancer cells. It might be used to shrink a large cancer before an operation so that it can be removed more easily. When surgery isn’t an option, radiation therapy might be used to relieve symptoms, such as pain. Sometimes radiation is combined with chemotherapy. External beam radiation can treat the anal, rectal and colon cancer tumors. Treatments are scheduled Monday through Friday over the course of several weeks. In some cases, we can delivery higher doses of radiation in fewer treatments.

Your treatment is custom-tailored and unique to your diagnosis, tumor size, location and involvement. Your radiation oncologist (a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with radiation) will review all available treatment options and recommend a personalized plan for you based on national guidelines, which guide all cancer treatments. Radiation therapy is used either alone or in combination with other treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery.

Radiation can be delivered either from outside the body with a machine called a linear accelerator (external beam radiation) or from a radiation source implanted permanently or temporarily in the body (brachytherapy).

Benefits of Radiation Therapy:

  • Pain Free Treatment Delivery
  • Non-Invasive
  • Custom Tailored Treatment Plan
  • Little to No Side Effects
  • Immediate Return to Daily Activities
  • Minimal Radiation Exposure to Adjacent Healthy Tissue
What to Expect
1

Initial Scans

To create a customized treatment plan, you will have a CT or PET/CT scan to identify the exact location of your cancer.
2

Pre-Treatment Preparation

Ink marks or small tattoo-like dots will be placed on your skin in the area of the tumor to ensure the radiation is delivered to the tumor. The markings will be visible on your skin, but only in the area of the tumor and are permanent. They are designed to fade and will begin to disappear towards the end of your radiation treatments. Occasionally, the markings will have to be reapplied to your skin during treatment. It is very important that you do not scrub the markings during your bathing/showering. Your radiation therapist will discuss with you how to care for your skin during your treatments, including protecting the markings.
3

Radiation Treatment Scheduling

Radiation treatments happen Monday through Friday for a number of weeks, usually for 5-8 weeks. Weekend breaks, on Saturday and Sunday, allow your normal cells to recover and assist your healing process.
4

Treatment Room

Our radiation therapists will bring you from the waiting room, into the treatment room with the linear accelerator (radiation machine). The therapist will make you comfortable in the room and assist you in getting positioned on the treatment table.
5

Delivery Machine Setup

Two therapists will align the laser to the target on your skin, indicated by the “tattoo-like” markings. Alignment takes only a couple of minutes. The therapists will then leave the room to deliver and monitor your treatment.
6

Delivery of Radiation Therapy

During the treatment the machine will move over your body. You won’t feel anything. It’s much like having an x-ray. Sometimes the specific area of skin receiving treatment, can get tender and sunburned, your healthcare team will want to know if you are experiencing any burning or discomfort during your treatment. Your healthcare team will guide you with proper care of your skin. Typically the treatment takes about 10-15 minutes. The most common side effect of radiation therapy is fatigue – it is very important to get plenty of rest and adequate nutrition.
7

Post Treatment Followup

Generally, you will see your doctor weekly. However, we are always available if you need us.

Talk To A Team Member Today

We know you have a choice about where you get your cancer care but we hope you’ll choose us. Here are the top reasons why we believe Laurel Cancer Care is the best choice:

  • We use the most advanced therapies available.
  • Our doctor is specially trained and board certified. Meet Dr. L. Cameron Pimperl!
  • Our medical, technical and support staff are experts at what they do. Meet the team!
  • Our treatment plans follow national guidelines and are the same protocols as those used by the top academic cancer centers.
  • We work as a one team that is closely coordinated, with one focus.
  • We want everyone to feel like family.
  • We keep close tabs on your physical, mental and emotional well-being because we care about quality of life.
  • You get to stay close to home, surrounded by the love and support of your family and friends.